Cardiff Blues wing Owen Lane is determined to keep his place among the Wales “legends” he used to idolise and make it all the way to the World Cup.
Lane is one of two uncapped players in the 42-man training camp that will be cut to 31 for the tournament in Japan.
The 21-year-old says he is still coming to terms with the fact he is training with Wales’ top players.
“I find it surreal to be surrounded by players I have grown up watching,” he explained. “It is pretty special.”
Wales will travel to Switzerland and Turkey for training camps and face England and Ireland in home away and matches, with the final World Cup squad named at the beginning of September.
Lane is hoping to progress from being a little star-struck and just happy to be training with Wales to being a contender for the World Cup squad.
“Hopefully I can learn a bit from the players on and off the field and I can emulate them,” said Lane.
“As a youngster growing up you look at players like Alun Wyn Jones and Jonathan Davies. They are not just Wales legends they are [British and Irish] Lions legends.
“You aspire to be in this environment. I find it odd I am training with them but everybody has been welcoming.
“Now I am here I realise how hard it is to try and stay here and get yourself in that World Cup squad.
“Once you are in a camp like this, you don’t want to let it go.”
Lane had been earmarked for a place in the squad before now, but his progress was checked as he suffered untimely injuries before the last three key Wales squad announcements.
“I was pretty disappointed, even though I wasn’t in the squads before; I thought maybe I had a chance to be selected,” said Lane.
“Injuries are part and parcel of the game but I would be lying if I said it was not tough.
“Those things [the prospect of missing out on the World Cup], definitely go through your mind but as a youngster you are not expected to go on and do things.
“If you concentrate on getting fit and return to a good run of form and put your hand up, hopefully you can put yourself in a position like this.”
Article courtesy of BBC Sport