Manon Johnes admits it was a dream come true to make her senior Wales debut, as she prepares for her first international start in tonight's clash against Hong Kong at Cardiff Arms Park (KO 7.00pm)
The Cardiff Blues flanker replaced the injured Alisha Butchers in the first half of last week’s victory over South Africa at the Welsh capital.
The 17-year-old Ysgol Gyfun Glantaf pupil says the focus now is on retaining her place in Rowland Phillips’ plans.
“It’s something I’ve wanted to do since I was very, very small. Just to do it with a group of girls I’ve watched on TV since I was very young is amazing,” said Johnes.
“It was an inspiration for me, growing up, to watch players like Rachel Taylor and Sioned Harries in my position.
“To play with Sioned and other players who have been around for a long time was an amazing experience.
“To train alongside them, I’ve been learning so much from each session.
“It was a big shock to come on so early. It was a bit daunting, but I think that’s the best way to make my senior debut. I don’t think I could’ve had a better experience for my first game. It was amazing to get my first cap.
“I’m really pleased to get my first start on Friday, even though I wasn’t expecting it at all.
“I really want to win again with the girls to keep the momentum going and make sure we have a good season before the Six Nations.
“Personally, I just want to play well on Friday, and hopefully make it into the team to play Canada next week.
“If I perform well, hopefully I can make it into the Six Nations squad, but at the moment the priority is to make sure we win the next two games.”
“I started playing rugby at seven when I was with the boys, until year eight, before joining Cardiff Quins Girls under-18.
“I got into the Cardiff Blues Ladies under-18 squad two years ago then this year managed to get into the senior squad, which enabled me to be selected in the Wales squad this year.
“I coach years seven to nine in school. They played yesterday and it’s great to see them enjoying their rugby and see them grow from week-to-week.
“My teachers have been great throughout this experience, even though I’ve been missing some school, they’ve fully understood.”