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Wales Online
Wales Online
Steffan Thomas

Coach 'very disappointed' with teen who's ditched Wales to become England's new young star

Wales U20s head coach Byron Hayward insists he is disappointed his former wing Josh Hathaway has jumped ship to play for England U20s.

Back-three speedster Hathaway, who is studying at Hartpury College, was capped by Wales U20s last season but is now in England's squad having left the Scarlets to join Gloucester.

And former Scarlets coach Hayward feels let down by Hathaway's actions having invested so much time and effort into his development.

READ MORE: England pick two of Wales' brightest prospects for Six Nations amid fears they could be lost

"I'm very disappointed," said Hayward.

"We had named Josh in our squad. He rung Andy Lloyd (Wales U20s team manager) up over the Christmas period and told him he had decided to go with England but he had been named in our squad.

"For me now, in this U20s programme, I want boys who want to wear that Wales jersey.

"Whether he comes back into the senior fold in the future is up to other people but right here right now he doesn't want to play for Wales, fine. I'm happy with the players I have."

The 19-year-old from Aberystwyth, who only last year said it was his dream to play senior rugby for Wales, scored a hat-trick for England U20s on his debut against Scotland U20s last weekend.

Speaking after the game, Hathaway told The Rugby Paper: "Getting to represent your country is massive and to score a hat-trick felt surreal. It's one of those moments you'll look back on when you finish your career and tell the kids and grandkids about over fish and chips on a Friday night."

Despite having gone over to England, Hathaway is not tied to them and could still represent Wales at senior level in the future.

Another England U20s player who is very much still eligible for Wales is Bristol Bears centre Joe Jenkins. Jenkins may not be a name familiar to Welsh rugby fans but the 19-year-old is widely considered to be one of the brightest prospects in the English game.

Hayward has revealed he tried to select Jenkins in his Wales U20s squad, and while he failed in his most recent attempt all is not lost from a Welsh point of view.

"I spoke to Joe's dad back in November because he is definitely a player we are interested in," said Hayward. "He's Welsh qualified. He said Joe felt obligated to England because he'd come through their U18s programme, and they had rehabbed him through a knee injury which is totally explainable. I understand and quite admire his loyalty.

"He is 100% Welsh and assured me that Joe wants to play for Wales at senior level and sees himself as a Welshman. However, at this moment in time he felt a loyalty to England because they've looked after him."

Having been born in Halifax, Jenkins qualifies for Wales through his father's side of the family who originally hail from Llanharan. The Monmouth School product played for Newport Schools, and trialled for the Dragons U16s side but didn't make the cut at the region. Jenkins made his Gallagher Premiership debut against Saracens last November and is widely considered to be one of the best prospects in the British game.


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