WALES under-20s hooker Ellis Shipp is heading for Georgia with wind in his sails after making an unexpected Newport Gwent Dragons debut.

The 19-year-old from Newbridge has been selected in Jason Strange’s squad for the World Rugby U20 Championship, which sees the Welsh youngsters attempting to get out of a tricky group featuring England, Australia and Samoa.

Shipp, who is joined in the squad by fellow Dragons hooker Owen Hughes, will head to Georgia as one of the players to have featured in senior regional rugby.

The front rower was thrust into the Guinness PRO12 derby against Cardiff Blues in Caerphilly when former Wales hooker Rhys Thomas, 16 years his senior, was sin-binned.

Shipp acquitted himself well during his 22 minutes on the pitch and will hope for more opportunities next season as back-up to Thomas, Elliot Dee and Rhys Buckley.

“Huw Bevan [elite performance manager] gave me the call on the Wednesday and asked me if I could come training because a few hookers were injured and there was the chance I’d be on the bench,” said Shipp.

“I turned up and didn’t think I was going to have as long as I did but got the call when ‘TRT’ went off. It was a good experience, really quick, and I’ll never forget my first game.

“I trained last summer with the boys and for a bit in the winter before I was busy with the under-20s, so hopefully I can push for a few more games and keep improving.

“It’s nice to have TRT around as a role model and giving a few pointers on what I can improve.”

Shipp started playing the game at Machen and Penallta with a growth spurt leading to a change of position: “I was an outside half before I put a bit of weight on and my old man had to explain that I was a bit too big for that and I had to go up front.”

This season he featured for the Dragons Premiership Select XV in the British and Irish Cup and played for Cross Keys.

He started against Italy and England in the U20 Six Nations only to suffer a shoulder injury when carrying the ball against the Red Rose before returning as a sub in the finale against France.

“It’s been a really good season for me, I was disappointed to injure my shoulder against England but it was good to come back from it quickly,” said Shipp.

“I’m looking forward to Georgia. It’s going to be tough with five games in two and a half weeks but it will be a great experience for all of us.”

Shipp is joined in the Wales under-20s squad by fellow Dragons Hughes, wings Joe Goodchild and Jared Rosser, full-back Will Talbot-Davies, centre Connor Edwards and fly-half Arwel Robson.

Wales under-20 fixtures: v Australia - Wednesday, May 31 (5.30pm UK time); v England - Sunday, June 4 (5.30pm); v Samoa - Thursday, June 8 (10am). Knockout stages: Tuesday, June 13; Sunday, June 18.