Wales caretaker coach Robin McBryde has hailed west Wales' fabulous five who will start for the British Lions this weekend.
Ospreys' quartet Lee Byrne, Tommy Bowe, Shane Williams and Adam Jones along with Scarlets hooker Matthew Rees have been selected for the tour opener against a Royal XV on Saturday.
Now McBryde, preparing for Wales' Test against Canada in Toronto, reckons the quintet are in pole position to nail down starting Lions Tests spots against South Africa next month.
McBryde said: "It's fantastic news and it's a great opportunity for all of them. I'm sure getting their names up on the first teamsheet is a huge relief for the players. They will have all been keen to get on with the job straight from the opening game.
"They are used to working with the Wales coaches but it will be different in the Lions environment - it's a huge opportunity for them.
"We've been kept up to speed with what is going on in South Africa and we relay that to our players when we board the bus to training. It was great to hear and there were a few cheers that went up from the lads when we heard the news. I'm sure they will come back as better players but we wish them all the best of luck."
With Ireland hooker Jerry Flannery ruled out of the clash with the world champion Springboks with an elbow injury, Rees has fought off stiff competition from England's Lee Mears and Scotland's Ross Ford. Rees has scaled new heights since he won his first cap for the Three Feathers against the USA in 2005 and now boasts a Grand Slam winner's medal as well as the Lions call.
And former Scarlets hooker McBryde reckons Rees has a golden opportunity to impress Lions coach Ian McGeechan in Rustenburg.
McBryde said: "Matthew has the opportunity and you can't ask for anything more than that. He won his first cap on this tour four years ago and has progressed really well since then.
"He has deserved his spot on the Lions tour and hopefully he will show what he can do and take it with both hands."
And with the likes of Scarlets' young duo Jonathan Davies and Daniel Evans and Ospreys teenager Dan Biggar making early inroads onto the international scene, McBryde believes the 28-year-old front-rower from Tonyrefail is a perfect inspiration to the next generation of players coming through.
McBryde said: "Matthew's name has been mentioned to the younger players in this squad about what you can achieve in the game.
"Everyone in the squad has been training well this week and we want to get as much out of the three weeks we've had together. But we want to focus on our job against Canada this weekend."
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