8:02am Friday 6th September 2013
HALLAM Amos gets the chance to repeat his Junior World Championship heroics when handed a start for Newport Gwent Dragons on the wing against Ulster this evening (kick-off 7.15pm).
The 18-year-old made a huge impression for Wales Under-20s this summer with 11 on his back.
With Scarlets speedster Jordan Williams in the squad, head coach Danny Wilson was spoilt for choice at full-back so shifted the Dragons man to the wing.
It was a decision that bore fruit when Amos, who swaps Monmouth School for Cardiff University this month, scored a scorching individual try in the winner-takes-all group game against Argentina.
He continued to be a key member of the back three that helped Wales finish as runners-up in the tournament, beating South Africa and narrowly losing to England in the final.
Wing wasn't a new position for Amos – he has made three starts there for his region – and plenty of his rugby will be out wide this season with Dan Evans and Jason Tovey able to slot in at 15 for the Dragons.
And director of rugby Lyn Jones believes the medical student's versatility will be just what the doctor ordered.
"Hallam has a big career ahead of him at the Dragons and just needs to be out on the field," said the new boss about the youngster who can also play in midfield.
"He offers a great deal to the team and was a great success on the wing in the Junior World Championship.
"It's easy to pigeon-hole people but we need flexibility in our squad. It's so old-fashioned to just play one position – contemporary players need the ability to play two roles."
Jones has by and large stuck with the side that started the 22-20 pre-season friendly win against Bath for the RaboDirect Pro12 opener.
The director of rugby makes four changes to the starting XV with Amos replacing Adam Hughes on the wing, Richie Rees getting the nod at scrum-half ahead of Jonathan Evans, Aaron Coundley starts at loosehead while captain Andrew Coombs partners Matthew Screech in the second row.
"Before Bath we thought we had the side that we wanted to play against Ulster but lots of players put their hands up for selection," said Jones.
"I've seen these players in training but you only get to know about them when they have the pressures that come with playing."
Ulster are without a host of their top talent with half-back Ruan Pienaar on duty with South Africa in the Rugby Championship, hooker Rory Best and wing Tommy Bowe resting following the Lions tour, former All Black tighthead John Afoa out injured and influential Kiwi Nick Williams unavailable for family reasons.
Irish internationals Craig Gilroy, Stuart Olding and Stephen Ferris don't feature for last season's runners-up but they still boast some top talent.
Ireland fly-half Paddy Jackson will pull the strings while New Zealander Jared Payne will be a threat from full-back.
South African captain Johann Muller, Dan Tuohy, Robbie Diack, Chris Henry and Roger Wilson provide plenty of oomph in the back five of the pack.
Dragons: D Evans, T Prydie, P Leach, J Dixon, H Amos, J Tovey, R Rees; A Coundley, R Thomas, D Way, M Screech, A Coombs (captain), J Groves, N Cudd, L Evans. Replacements: H Gustafson, P Price, F Chaparro, A Jones, N Talei, J Evans, K Burton, R Wardle.
Ulster: J Payne, A Trimble, L Marshall, C Farrell, D McIlwaine, P Jackson, P Marshall, C Black, R Herring, R Lutton, J Muller (captain), D Tuohy, R Diack, C Henry, R Wilson. Replacements: N Annett, T Court, D Fitzpatrick, L Stevenson, S Doyle, I Porter, J McKinney, D Cave.
Referee: Claudio Blessano (Italy)
© Copyright 2001-2013 Newsquest Media Group