Richard Hodges believes Cardiff Blues' youngsters should follow Owen Lane's example, as the wing earned a consistent place in Danny Wilson's side after making a mark on the coaches during Anglo-Welsh Cup action.
Lane impressed during the defeats to Newcastle Falcons and Ospreys in November, putting him in a position to establish himself as a key member of the senior side for crucial PRO14 and European fixtures.
With seven international players called up to Warren Gatland’s Wales squad for the NatWest Six Nations, Hodges insists there are places up for grabs when Wales' Capital Region return to the PRO14 in two weeks, and those involved in the Anglo-Welsh Cup over the next two games need to show why they should be given an opportunity in big domestic and European games.
“Boys will come back into our squad next week for the London Irish game ready to build into the Cheetah, but it’s simple maths. You lose six or seven to Wales, you have six or seven who have to come in and replace those guys,” said Hodges.
“The question to this group is who those six or seven guys are going to be.
“You have to use Owen Lane as a prime example. After the Newcastle and Ospreys games in the Anglo Welsh, he got his opportunity which turned into eight games on the bounce and proved himself to be a key figure in our side.
“Now it’s a case of who is going to be that person who grabs that baton and run with it.
“There are some winning candidates there but cohesively they’ve got to make sure they’re a tight group because that’s how they’ll perform to their optimum levels. Let’s see who it is.”
The Blues travel to take on the defending Anglo-Welsh Cup champions on Saturday with a mix of experienced and youth players.
Hodges, who takes charge of the team for this competition, has been encouraged by the squad’s attitude in training this week, and believes the hunger to prove a point has been evident in the build-up to the Welford Road clash.
Hodges said: “There are obviously boys who have gone well during the festive derbies and in Europe who will have a well-deserved week off.
"In contrast you’ve also got boys who sat on the bench, were travelling reserves or been on the fringes who need some rugby.
“We’ve expected our leadership group to drive the standards up both on and off the field and they’ve been excellent in doing that this week.
“I’m hoping we’ll get two really competitive sides who will go hammer and tongs at each other for 80 minutes.
“We’ve got a good mixture out there of youth and experience and we’ve trained particularly well this week. We’ve got intensity into our legs over the two training days and we’ll have a team run tomorrow to dot the ‘i’s and cross the ’t’s before heading up to Welford Road.
“There is a bit of an aura around Leicester and we’ve got guys like Blaine Scully and Jack Roberts who have been part of that environment and spoken about that during the course of the week as well.
“It’s going to be a real tough test but you’re getting to the point of the season where you’ll make final decisions on contract renewals for some boys in the pathway so it’s a big couple of weeks for them to put their hands up and show they want to be part of the Cardiff Blues moving forward.”