Dan Baker is ready to take a leading role for the Ospreys when the new GuinnessPRO12 season kicks-off after learning so much from his South African adventure with Wales this summer.
The 22-year-old powerhouse set up Cory Allen's opening try in the 34-12 victory over the Eastern Province Kings and made the bench for the second Test with the Springboks. And despite the heartbreak of Wales' 31-30 defeat, Baker reckons he will be better equipped to take the Guinness PRO12 by storm this season.
He said: "Just being able to sit on the bench and watch people like Victor Matfield and Bakkies Botha, who I've been watching play since I was a kid, was amazing.
"I'll do my best to improve this season, I've had the great experience of going on tour with Wales to South Africa and I'm ready to crack on. I learned every day, it was great to be involved with the whole squad."
The Ospreys missed out on the PRO12 playoffs after they were pipped to fourth place by Ulster. But Baker reckons the new-look region can fight for glory with their crop of local talent.
He added: "People can write us off but we know how hard we've trained and hopefully we can show that when the season kicks-off and hopefully we'll be successful.
"Most of the squad is made up of local boys and that's what the Ospreys strive to do and it's finally happened. It's good to be playing with boys I've grown up playing rugby with and against."
The Newport Gwent Dragons and Taulupe Faletau lie in wait for the Ospreys in the second round of PRO12 matches.
The Wales No.8 kept Baker out of the national team this summer, but he is determined to make him work hard for his starting berth.
He said: "Toby plays well every time he goes out on the pitch. He always stands up for the big occasion and performs. He's always going to be in the Wales fold and I've got a battle on my hands to get in the squad."
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