My first memory of rugby was playing Tag Rugby with my older brother when I was about four years old. My dad coached the team and they were short and I was drafted in and scored a try and absolutely loved it. I played all the time when I was really young, but I did stop playing rugby and football for a few years to concentrate on cricket. I played schools cricket for Wales and went back to rugby at around 15 and played for Neath Schools and Ospreys U16s and it was all rugby from there. The first players I remember were Dan Carter, Johnny Wilkinson, James Hook and Gavin Henson. I loved watching all of them when I was younger and loved the way they played the game.
It was during the ‘Invincibles’ time at the Ospreys that I got really hooked on them, with Hooky, Gavin Henson, Shane Williams and Lee Byrne all playing. I was brought up in the area and all you heard about was the Ospreys. I used to go and watch them play in Swansea. Everybody wanted to be an Osprey and that’s when it all really started for me.
When I got into the Ospreys U16s, I had a decision to make to either play cricket for Glamorgan or rugby with the Ospreys. I was probably better at cricket than I was at rugby but I have always loved a challenge and I chose rugby. I just wanted to be the best I could be at rugby and that is still my mindset.
My Ospreys debut was against Gloucester at Kingsholm and I was a travelling reserve but a few hours before kick off I was told I was on the bench and that was probably the best thing that could have happened. It meant I didn’t have time to think about things or get nervous. I came off the bench and I loved the whole experience, and playing in front of ‘The Shed’. I had just turned 18 and I just loved the whole buzz, the crowd and the occasion.
My second year with Wales U20s was the World Cup in Argentina and we played New Zealand and everybody remembers the famous victory we earned against them. I scored the winning try and then we played France, who went on to win the tournament. People forget the first game against the hosts Argentina and that we beat them and it was massive for us. It set us up for the rest of the tournament. The crowd was bouncing because Argentina were a really good team and I just remember the silence at the final whistle when we won.
I love a challenge and competition, so having new players coming in means you have to rise to the challenge and it improves the team. The more competition there is the better the team becomes. Have always said, I want everybody fit in my position and ready to play, rather than me being the only player available. Competition drives you forward as a player and I know it raises my game and makes me a better player. I just want to play and show what I can do.