Dillon Lewis is determined to make the most of his opportunity, as he prepares for his first international start when Wales take on Samoa at Apia on Friday.
Lewis endured a frustrating season with Cardiff Blues during 2016/17, as he was sidelined with a foot injury, but there was light at the end of the tunnel as he made his international debut as a replacement during last week’s victory over Tonga at Eden Park.
The tight-head prop, who lines up alongside Nicky Smith and Ryan Elias in the front row as part of a youthful Welsh pack, was surprised with his call-up to the tour party, but is honoured to fulfil a lifelong dream of representing his country on the international stage.
“During the Lions, players go away, which gives the younger guys an opportunity to come in,” said Lewis.
“We are a young team, but there’s a lot of talent in there and it’s a good opportunity for me and everyone else.
“I was definitely surprised to make the tour. From a personal perspective, I didn’t get the season I wanted due to injury, but when I spoke with Robin, I tried to grab the opportunity with both hands.
“Coming through the age grade, the end goal was always to get that international cap, and obviously it’s a dream come true and a massive honour to represent your country.”
Lewis is also joined in the pack by regional teammates Ellis Jenkins, Josh Navidi and Seb Davies, who also won his first senior cap at Eden Park last week.
Lewis, is expecting Samoa to present a typically physical challenge for the Welsh pack in Apia, and believes coming up against experienced opposition is an invaluable opportunity for himself and his fellow front rowers.
Lewis added: “You don’t get an opportunity to catch your breath at this level, you’re straight in at the deep and you have to try to catch up as quick as you can, otherwise you get left behind.
"You don't get an opportunity to catch your breath at this level, you're straight in at the deep and you have to try to catch up as quick as you can otherwise you get left behind.
"From day one you have to learn the calls and team plays and try to get up to date. There's nobody there to hold your hand. You don't have time to sit around, you just have to get straight into it.
"Samoa have some TOP14 and Premiership boys with a big front row, so it'll be a good test for myself, Ryan and Nicky.
"It's boiling hot and sunny one minute here and then it's pouring with rain so we've had to adapt, but the boys have done it well. It's one of those things. We've prepared for both types of game.
"If it rains we're ready for more scrums and if it's hot we'll get to chuck the ball around. It was one of the best feelings in the world to run out at Eden Park and it was a dream come true.
"I'll definitely remember it for the rest of my life."