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."
The British & Irish Cup kicks off this weekend with the four Regional Premiership Select XVs flying the flag for Wales. Welsh
Sat 14 Nov: Blues Premiership Select v Nottingham (2.30) & Connacht Eagles v Dragons (2.30)
Sun 15 Nov: Yorkshire Carnegie v Ospreys Premiership Select (1.30) & Scarlets v Bedford Blues (3.00)
The Welsh Rugby Union is forming a new Youth Board with a brief to help keep more young people involved in the game during their late teenage years and beyond. The first task of the fifteen strong Board will be to analyse and consider the issues which lead to a number of youngsters drifting away from the sport between the ages of 16 and 21. To apply visit www.wru.wales/youthboard
The Foster's Challenge Cup will involve the 12 Principality Premiership sides and will run during European and British & Irish Cup weeks, providing vital fixtures for the participating clubs and an opportunity for upcoming players to step up to semi-professional rugby and make a claim for starting places within the Premiership squads.
Eighty schools and colleges in Wales now have a full time rugby officer as part of the WRU's school club hub scheme. All of the school club hub officers recently gathered at the National Centre of Excellence for various workshops.
With Liam Williams forced out of the World Cup through injury, lock Luke Charteris and Skills Coach Neil Jenkins say they have to put yesterday's defeat behind them as Wales now look ahead to another physical encounter against South Africa in the quarter-finals of the Rugby World Cup.
WRU Consultant Head of Physical Performance Paul Stridgeon praises the Physical Performance department for their work and dedication as he addresses the media ahead of Wales' Pool A clash against Australia
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