First-time trio looking ahead to Wales experience

In a famous week for the region that saw five players selected for the British & Irish Lions tour of Australia and a further eight included in the Welsh training group before they head off to Japan,

There were three young Ospreylians celebrating their first ever inclusion in the senior national set-up.

Two of the trio, Dan Baker and Dafydd Howells, have represented the nation at age-grade level, but for 24-year Scott Baldwin, a latecomer to the professional game through Bridgend Ravens, it is the first time that he has been included in a national squad.

Speaking after the call-up was announced, hooker Baldwin said it has come as a shock:

"I wasn't expecting it at all. When the news came through it was obviously great for me personally and I'm really excited and honoured about it. The last 18 months, since I went to Italy, have been phenomenal for me. When I came back to Wales and Tandy took over I've been able to move on massively as a player and I've been fortunate enough to feature regularly for the Ospreys.

"Going into the training squad is another challenge for me which I look forward to. If I can make the tour it will be a massive achievement and a real landmark for me, but I know I will have to keep working hard just to even stay in contention at the Ospreys, never mind anywhere else."

As for 18-year old wing Howells, who made his regional debut in this season's LV= Cup, he is another player surprised by the call-up.

"I was blown away by the news" he admitted.

"It's not something I could have expected, I never thought anything about it whatsoever. It's going to be a great experience for me and hopefully I can learn a lot while I'm there, like I do when I train with the Ospreys.

"This year I've played regional rugby for the Ospreys, captained Wales U18s and now this, it's a massive amount to take in to be honest. I've got to stay grounded, work as hard as I can and get to where I need to be. There are no expectations going in there, I just want to take what experience I can and hopefully learn from it."

The last of trio, 20-year old Baker, is another player who pulled on a regional shirt for the first time earlier this year in the LV= Cup. After just three Ospreys appearances he certainly wasn't expecting an international call:

"Being selected for Wales is obviously every player's ambition but it's not something that had even entered my head. Obviously I'm really proud to be picked in this training squad but I can't get carried away. I'm still learning as a player and I haven't achieved anything yet. I've still got a lot of hard work to do to establish myself but it's going to be a really good experience in the Wales camp which should help me improve as a player."

Ospreys Head Coach, Steve Tandy, paid tribute to the trio along with their fellow international representatives, saying:

"We are immensely proud of our record of producing players for the national team and to have eight boys in the training squad ahead of the Japan tour in addition to our Lions representation is a fantastic achievement.

"For players like Dafydd, Dan and Scott, this recognition is just the start. They are young men at the beginning of their careers and it's important that they recognise this and continue working hard to ensure they reach their full potential in the seasons ahead."