Llanelli star Martyn Madden received a last minute call up to join the Wales side on their tour to South Africa.
The Scarlets prop has answered the call after Newport's Chris Anthony fell
victim to a freak training accident.
The 28-year-old powerhouse, who many tipped to become an international star,
says this is the stuff dreams are made of.
"I've dreamed about playing for Wales for so long I wasn't going to let this
pass up," said Madden.
"I had booked a holiday to Jamaica which will now have to be put back and I
intend to work as hard as I can to make the most of this great opportunity.
"The last time I toured with Wales was with the Under 19 team in Canada in
1991. So I'm really excited by the prospect of going to South Africa.
"Everyone has told me I could get a place on the replacements bench because
I can play on either side of the scrum, but I know you can take nothing for
Madden will be one of two uncapped props among the four Wales will travel
with. Iestyn Thomas, who is set to join Madden at Stradey Park next season,
will fill the loose head shirt and Swansea's Ben Evans is set to continue on the tight.
That leaves Pontypridd novice Gethin Jenkins and Madden to fight it out for
a slot on the replacements bench.
"I've been told I've got to work harder and that I must apply my work ethic
for what I do around the field at Llanelli to other parts of my game," said Madden.
"These next two weeks are going to be huge for me and I intend to take my
chance to impress the coaching staff."
Ironically, it was an injury sustained by one of Madden's former Wales Under
15 front row colleagues, Spencer John, which initially opened the door for
him to join the tour.
John injured his knee playing for Cardiff against Swansea and won't play
again until next season. Madden's other Under 15 team mate, Neath hooker
Barry Williams, was dropped from the Welsh squad for the tour.
"I'm the only one left from that front row who hasn't won a full cap, so it
would be nice to make it a full set," said Madden.
"It's just a shame that Spencer got injured and Barry isn't going to South
Africa, maybe one day we'll all pack down together again in the senior Welsh
Nearly 40 players were involved in the first Wales Under 18 training session of the season. WRU National Performance Manager Gethin Watts is excited at the potential shown by the group and expects the Regional Under 18 Championship to hone their skills even further.