STEVE Rhodes links up with the Young Lions for the first time after flying out to southern Spain for a four-day warm-weather training camp today.

The Worcestershire boss will be working alongside Somerset's new director of cricket Andy Hurry, who is leaving as Young Lions head coach, at Desert Springs Resort.

It is the start of the preparations for the Under 19s World Cup in New Zealand next year.

Rhodes takes charge as head coach on an interim basis when they head to South Africa for three weeks from November 22 for a Tri-Series with the host nation and Namibia.

They then depart on January 2 for the World Cup with Rhodes again at the helm and it is a challenge he is relishing.

He said: “It is an important winter with the Under 19 World Cup coming up in New Zealand in January and when I was asked to do the job I was very keen.

“I felt that, albeit it short term, it might be something I could help them with. England calling is really important to me.

“I’m really passionate about England cricket, passionate about the England team and developing England players.

“It fitted in nicely as long as the club were happy and as long as our coaching staff were happy for me to miss some of the winter here, then I was more than honoured to pick up the reins and try my best to do well with the guys for the winter.”

Rhodes said before leaving for Spain: “It will be good to meet all the guys.

"I’ve had a good luck at all the video footage of some of the players because a lot of them I don’t know so to see them with my own eyes will be really good in both Desert Springs and South Africa.

“But everything is gearing up towards January which is the Under 19 World Cup and a big challenge.

“I think there are a few players injured and missing. We had a tough time against India but the exciting thing is it’s an opportunity to prove to people that England can play cricket at junior level.”

When the Young Lions arrive in New Zealand for the World Cup, they will play warm-up games on January 9 and 11 before the first of their three group games against Namibia in Queenstown on January 15.

The final is in Tauranga on February 3.

Former Worcestershire academy player James Taylor is batting coach for the first half of the Young Lions’ winter programme.

Taylor said: “I can’t wait to get started. I did some work with the Young Lions at their first camp of the winter in Loughborough and liked what I saw.

“Andy has been fantastic getting me involved in the programme and now it’s going to be great to have the chance to work with Steve.

“He’s had so much experience and a lot of success with his county, both in terms of winning promotion and in the number of young talented players they bring through.”

The Young Lions squad includes Worcestershire's Adam Finch and Dillon Pennington.