Teenager Will Jones, is hoping to use the experience gained as skipper of Wales U20 this year to help him become the next to graduate from the development pathway into senior rugby.
The 18-year old captained the national team throughout the Six Nations and then at the World Rugby U20 Championship in Georgia last month, impressing with his leadership skills despite being in his first year at that particular age-grade.
A youthful squad could be reasonably content with their showing despite defeats to Australia and England, and Jones believes that with the majority of the group remaining eligible for the 2018 competition, they can use the experience of this summer as platform for an improved showing next time around.
“It was a new experience for me, something different, going to Georgia” said Jones.
“We had a tough group, with Australia, England and Samoa, and results didn’t go our way, but it was a young squad and the whole experience will be a big part of the development process for us.
“It’ll definitely be good for next year in Argentina as there are so many of us have another year with the U20s, myself included. Hopefully with another year behind us, we’ll be even more competitive next summer. The first target for me will be to get back into the squad for the Six Nations in spring, but obviously I want to go there and be a part of it again.”
With the region’s sizeable international contingent set for a delayed return to Llandarcy after their summer action with Wales and the Lions, Jones, who reported back for duty last week, is one of a number of youngsters stepping up to train with the senior squad.
Having seen the likes of Keelan Giles and Owen Watkin make the step-up over the last 18 months, former Penclawdd RFC and Gowerton Comprehensive back rower Jones would love to be the next to roll off the production line.
“I’m still very young and I’ve got a lot to learn but like anybody, I’m ambitious” Jones said.
“Nobody will go into training just to make the numbers up. You want to work hard, train well, push hard and hopefully make a positive impression. If you do well and get selected for pre-season games when some of the senior boys may not be available, it’s a great opportunity to put your hand up.
“100 per cent you want to be the next person to come through and it’s definitely achievable. You see other boys coming through the system, boys like Keelan, Owen Watkin, Luke Price, who’ve all played for the senior team, and that does give you a boost, real encouragement to push on.”
One thing Jones already knows is that he is in an environment where reputation counts for nothing and anybody with ideas above their station will soon get cut down to size.
“Definitely” he laughed.
“Nobody is going to be allowed to get ahead of themselves. A few boys have already found that out for themselves with white boots on and whatever. No matter who you are or what you’ve done, when you step foot in here you are just another player, that’s made clear.
“You’ve got to go out there and train, judged on what you do here every day. That’s how it should be. There are a few of us who’ve been given the chance this summer and it’s up to us to take that chance now, and make the most of it. How we do is down to us.”