Wales captain Ryan Jones has welcomed the uncapped Scarlets trio of Tavis Knoyle, Rob McCusker and Ken Owens into the international fold for the first training session ahead of the Principality Building Society Summer Test against South Africa at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday 5th June (2.30pm).
Owens and McCusker already have some limited experience on the international scene - Owens was a part of the 2010 RBS Six Nations squad, although he didn't make an appearance, and McCusker trained with the international squad in the build-up to the summer tour of USA and Canada in 2009, before missing out on the final cut - but to Knoyle, training with Wales is a brand new experience.
And Jones believes the three new recruits have the chance to experience something pretty unique in international terms next month, in what is effectively a home fixture for a touring squad, meaning the home fans can play a role.
"South Africa will be a great finale to both the domestic and international season," said Jones.
"We have the rare opportunity as a touring squad of playing a match in front of our home fans before we leave Wales.
"We will be testing ourselves against the very best opposition in world rugby in the form of the Springboks and the All Blacks and we are all hoping the fans can help give us a rousing send off at the Millennium Stadium before we go on our travels to New Zealand."
The young uncapped trio were amongst six Scarlets selected by Warren Gatland for his 27-man squad earlier this week and started official training on Tuesday. They join colleagues Jonathan Davies, Stephen Jones and Matthew Rees in the Wales camp.
North Walian McCusker said that the opportunities given to him this season with the region have allowed him to push forward and he is very much relishing the opportunity of pitting himself against the best teams in world rugby in the month ahead.
"It will be a huge challenge out in New Zealand, playing against the All Blacks and against the Boks in the Millennium Stadium, but I'm looking forward to it and hopefully I'll get some game time," said McCusker.
"Having been picked last year in the tour party and then left out at the last minute it was hard to take.
"It was difficult having to go into training for that week with the boys knowing that I wasn't touring with them but I used it to my advantage.
"It made me work harder in training and was an incentive going into the season just gone. I didn't really think about being selected this year too much so it was a good surprise.
"It's been a good six months, it's pretty much been a carbon copy of last year. I didn't play until January last year and it was more or less the same this season.
"With Daf (Jones) and Simon (Easterby) playing well I had to wait for my chance. Despite some of the results this season, playing and training at the Scarlets week-to-week doesn't feel as difficult as we have made it; there's always a good buzz in training; we put pressure on ourselves to put things right and I don't think external pressures affected us that much - the boys want to do well and we work for each other.
"There have been difficult patches but hopefully we can put that behind us and improve next season."
Owens, who featured in the Wales squad in the Six Nations for the first time in February, said he was elated to get the call-up.
"It's going to be a testing environment out in New Zealand, I've never been there before and I'm looking forward to it and hope to gain a lot of experience from it," said Owens.
"New Zealand is a proud rugby nation with passionate supporters - a bit like the Scarlets region. And you never get a weak All Blacks team, maybe they aren't as strong as the team before but they're always a challenge.
"I'm looking forward to everything about the tour; how their culture is different to ours, it's going to be a fantastic experience.
"Not getting off the bench in the Six Nations has just spurred me on - it definitely makes you hungrier for a cap and from where I was at the start of the year, second choice for the Scarlets, and then to get on to the bench for an international is huge and has definitely made me hungrier and I just want to keep working harder to get there.
"It would be nice to get on the pitch over the summer, but I've got to take what comes and work hard in the training camps and try and make an impression.
"If you look at the tour as a holiday, or that you're only there to make up the numbers there's no point in going. If the coaching staff think that boys are going there just for the ride you're probably not going to get your chance.
"I'll be going out there and giving it everything, getting involved and trying to get on the pitch.
"I've grown as a player throughout the year, it's just one of the opportunities and experiences that I've had being able to have so much game time.
"I've enjoyed everything this season and hopefully I'll come back and keep pushing on with that extra experience from the tour.
"The important thing for any player is consistency and the only way you can achieve that is to play week in week out. It's been great to have a run of games with the Scarlets and that has helped improve the consistency in my game this season."
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