Rowland Phillips has named six uncapped players in his 34-strong Wales Women squad for the Six Nations.
The Head Coach believes his youthful squad can lay the platform for the 2021 Women’s Rugby World Cup as they look to follow up the recent successful Autumn series campaign.
But he has also included 48-cap Elinor Snowsill who – along with RGC hooker Molly Kelly – did not feature in the squads for the recent three-Test Autumn series.
Bristol Bears fly-half Snowsill, 29, played four games in last season’s championship.
Kelly, 18, is joined by fellow uncapped players including the RGC trio of prop Brea Leung, full back Bethan Davies and half back Niamh Terry, along with Scarlets duo Caitlin Lewis (wing) and Alex Callender (flanker).
Callender and Terry, like Kelly, are just 18 while Lewis has only just turned 19.
“The overarching aim is to get to the 2021 Women’s Rugby World Cup with a young but experience squad,” said Phillips.
“You already have the likes of Alisha Butchers who at 21 has 20 caps and Beth Lewis who was one of the outstanding players during the autumn already has already got eight caps aged 19.
“It was pretty clear that we stepped things up in the autumn and made significant progress against quality teams. We still have lot of work to do but for us this season the key is to continue to build momentum from a positive autumn campaign.
“That is supported by the consistency in this squad selection and the confidence we’ve shown in the autumn squad.
“We stated that for the November series, players had to buy into the regional programme to be eligilbe for selection.
“Moving into the Six Nations we felt it was important to add depth at 10 and we will no doubt benefit from Elinor Snowsill’s experience.”
Davies previously played football for Wrexham Ladies while Leung was a discus thrower at a high level.
Lewis won bronze for Wales U18 Sevens at last year’s Youth Commonwealth Games and went on to play for Wales Women Development at the recent Dubai 7s Invitational tournament while Terry helped Emerging Wales Women beat England U18 at Principality Stadium last summer
Phillips added, “We have a lot of talent coming into the pathway who have years of experience playing the game having started at a young age, while others have transferred their skills from other sports.
“There are a number of routes to get there but this young squad are showing an impressive level of commitment to the programme.”
Wales Women will return to Cardiff Arms Park for their home Six Nations fixtures with Tests – against England and Ireland – taking place on the Sunday of the Guinness Six Nations weekends.
Both games will be televised by S4C along with their opening fixture against France in Montpellier (Saturday 2 Feb).
Phillips is looking forward to being part of the capital city’s Six Nations weekends.
He added: ”The support we received at Cardiff Arms Park in the autumn made a big difference to us.
“The players appreciated and clearly benefitted from the backing they received and it would be great to further increase the support for the national team during the Six Nations.”
Sue Butler, S4C Sports Commissioner said: “I’m delighted that we’ll be showing three of the Wales Women’s games in the 2019 Six Nations live on S4C.
“After an encouraging Autumn series, we’re looking forward to seeing the team continue their development in the world’s leading annual international rugby competition.”
Tickets are now on sale for Wales Women’s home matches via www.wru.wales/tickets and from the Cardiff Blues ticket office.
Wales Women Six Nations squad:
Carys Phillips (capt, Ospreys), Alex Callender (Scarlets), Alisha Butchers (Scarlets), Amy Evans (Ospreys), Bethan Lewis (Ospreys), Brea Leung (RGC), Cara Hope (Ospreys), Caryl Thomas (Dragons),
Cerys Hale (Dragons), Gwen Crabb (Ospreys), Gwenllian Pyrs (RGC), Kelsey Jones (Ospreys), Manon Johnes (Cardiff Blues), Mel Clay (Ospreys), Molly Kelly (RGC), Natalia John (Ospreys),
Sioned Harries (Scarlets), Siwan Lillicrap (Ospreys)
Alecs Donovan (Ospreys), Alicia McComish (Dragons), Bethan Davies (RGC), Caitlin Lewis (Scarlets), Elinor Snowsill (Bristol Bears), Ffion Lewis (Scarlets), Hannah Bluck (Dragons), Hannah Jones (Scarlets)
Jazz Joyce (Scarlets), Jess Kavanagh (RGC), Keira Bevan (Ospreys), Lauren Smyth (Ospreys), Lisa Neumann (RGC), Lleucu George (Scarlets), Niamh Terry (RGC), Robyn Wilkins (Cardiff Blues)
Wales Women Six Nations fixtures:
France Women v Wales Sat 2 Feb 8pm GMT GGL Stadium, Montpellier (S4C)
Italy Women v Wales Sat 9 Feb 7pm GMT Stadio Ettore Giardiniero, Lecce
Wales Women v England, SUNDAY 24 Feb, 12,30PM, CARDIFF ARMS PARK
Scotland Women v Wales, Fri 8 March, 7.35pm Scotstoun Stadium Glasgow
WALES WOMEN v Ireland, SUNDAY 17 MARCH 1.30PM CARDIFF ARMS PARK