From the Premiership to Wales duty, teenager is yet to take it all in...
After enjoying a meteoric rise from age-grade rugby with the Eyasses to senior international rugby in Japan in just six months, 18-year old winger Dafydd Howells has revealed that he is still pinching himself to ensure that it’s really happened.
The Abercrave flier stepped up from the Ospreys U18s on Boxing Day to make his Principality Premiership bow for Neath in the derby clash with Aberavon while still only 17, following that up with his first taste of regional rugby in two LV= Cup clashes, against the Dragons and Harlequins just weeks later.
Within months he had captained Wales at U18 level and then become one of the youngest ever senior caps after making the starting XV for the first summer test in Osaka.
"It was an amazing experience" said Howells.said Howells.
"From being called up to train, to being part of the travelling party and going out to Japan, and then playing in both games, it’s been an amazing couple of months.
"Since the start of the year it’s been an incredible time for me personally. It hasn’t all sunk in yet if I’m honest, how fast and how well the last six months have gone. It’s been absolutely phenomenal.
"Going somewhere like Japan was always going to be a fantastic experience even if I hadn’t been selected.
"It’s hard to explain the way the last few months have gone as a new boy, not only on the Wales trip, but with the Ospreys as well."
Having travelled east expecting to be just making up the numbers, Howells found himself thrust into the spotlight after being named on the wing for the First Test, and he says hearing his name called out in the team meeting took him by surprise.
"I didn’t really know what to think to be honest" he continued.he continued.
"I’m still not 100 per cent certain what I’m feeling now. It’s strange when my parents say to me, ‘you’ve got a Welsh cap’, I have to step back and think, ‘yeah, I have’. It’s an absolutely amazing feeling. Go back to Christmas when I was making my Neath debut, if you’d told me everything that was going to happen, with my Ospreys debut, captaining Wales U18s and then Japan, I wouldn’t believe you.
"The team was announced to the players ahead of the game and it was difficult to keep it to myself. I couldn’t even tell my parents so my father did give me a bit of a row afterwards for not saying anything.
"The atmosphere walking out into the ground and singing the national anthem will always stay with me. I tried to remember every detail of the day as it was such a special occasion.
"The game was a shock to the system. It was exceptionally hot and the pace, the speed that Japan played at was exceptional."
Howells will go into the new season hoping to continue progressing along the development pathway and aiming to build on the undoubted progress of the last year, but he acknowledged that there’s still plenty of work to be done to establish himself as an up and coming Osprey:
"It’s every young boy’s dream to play for Wales and now that I’ve done it I want to do it again. I realise once everyone is back in contention I’m a long way down the line but I’ve got to keep working hard, do well for the Ospreys when I get my opportunity, and we’ll see where that takes me over the next few years."