Ellis Jenkins insists Friday's warm-up clash against RGC 1404 is a big opportunity to put a marker down ahead of the upcoming summer tests against Tonga and Samoa later this month.
The back-row forward will start at openside flanker on Friday, alongside regional team-mate, Seb Davies, and Newport Gwent Dragons’ Ollie Griffiths, with Cardiff Blues’ Gareth Anscombe and Kristian Dacey also named in the starting XV.
Jenkins is relishing the opportunity to play alongside his new team-mates, and believes the competition in the back row can help everyone to drive each other to reach the highest level of their game.
“Everyone wants to be involved and put as good account of themselves as they can, so it’s nice to have the opportunity to play,” said Jenkins.
“A lot of the boys are maybe being managed, coming from some big games and a lot of gametime recently.
“Everyone will get a chance and it’s up to us to work as combinations. I’ve never played with Ollie before so it will be interesting to see how we get on.
“Obviously you’ve got Youngy, Navs and Shings on the bench as well, so there’s huge competition, there always will be and that’s what you need in any squad in order to be successful.
“We’ll all thrive on it, we’ll all be competitive with each other and drive each other to be as good as we can.
“It’s a little bit different because it’s the first time for so many boys or they haven’t been involved very often.
“It’s more of a learning type week at the moment, and trying get everyone up-to-speed with how things are done with defensive patterns and attacking shape.
“We’re also getting everyone to know each other because there are boys who haven’t played with each other and haven’t met each other, so that’s been the challenge for us so far.
“It’s going well, we’ve had a few tough training sessions and the boys have been getting on really well, so we’re looking forward to running out against RGC on Friday.”
Jenkins won his three senior international caps to date during last year’s summer tests against All Blacks.
He hopes that experience can give him an edge going into the upcoming games, but insists he will also be looking to use that experience to help out the younger, more inexperienced members of the squad.
“It takes the pressure off a little bit. I’ve been on the pitch and seen what the match-day is like, see what the pressure’s like and see what the crowds are like.
“That will obviously help and hopefully it can help some of the younger boys as well, if I can make them feel a little bit more chilled out before going into their first cap or their first experience with the squad.
“Any international experience you can draw upon can help you. A lot of the boys in this squad played age grade and been successful so they’ll have that experience as well.
“Then you’ve obviously got boys like Jamie and Scott who’ve been in big championships and won championships and they’re the big experiences we can draw upon.”
Jenkins and the rest of the Welsh squad are based in North Wales this week, as they continue their preparations ahead of the tour, with the week culminating with the sold-out clash at Parc Eirias against the Welsh cup champions.
A former Wales U20’s captain, the Cardiff Blues back row has previous experience of playing at Parc Eirias, and has been impressed with the standard of facilities at Colwyn Bay.
“The facilities up here are incredible, with the pitch and the gym all in once place, it’s really top notch. It takes a while to get up here, but once you are up here, it’s really top class training facilities and training environment.
“When I first came up here it was the first international game to be played here and there were a lot of uncertainties around it but obviously we got great crowds watching us and since then, RGC have done really well and worked their way up and finished the season well with a cup win.
“With the Under 20’s we came up here for the games, but now we’re here for the preparations for the tour and that’s been the main difference so far, is just putting things in place and get up to speed before we head out to New Zealand to take on Tonga"