Ospreys flanker Ben Lewis says his target this season is to cement a place in the regional first fifteen, after spending the past fourteen months watching from the stands.
Lewis, who impressed with three tries from his 16 starts in the 2007/8 campaign underwent reconstructive surgery to the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee in April last year. However predictions of a six month lay off were more than doubled when complications lead to further hospitalisation for the 22-year-old.
Now fully fit and enjoying being a part of pre-season training with the squad, Lewis is keen to put his injury troubles behind him "I'm feeling pretty good about myself right now. I've been out for longer than a year and I've had quite a tough time of it but it's good to be back in full training and getting the ball in hand. I'm genuinely excited about the prospect of playing again."
After impressing in the 2007/8 season Lewis was being tipped to follow in the footsteps of fellow Academy products James Hook, Alun-Wyn Jones and Ian Evans into the national set-up, only for the injury to abruptly halt his progress. Looking ahead to the new season, And Lewis now says his target is to force his way back into the reckoning at the Ospreys. But the road to recovery has been long and winding, as Lewis explains. "When you suffer an injury you quickly focus on the return date and put all your efforts into meeting your targets along the way, and I was looking at six month lay-off, coming back in November or December last year. The initial op went well and it was all coming along nicely, but five months or so into it when I was just about to step it up I started suffering problems, It was the same symptoms as pre-op, I knew it wasn't right and had to seek medical help. "Now I want to get back playing as many games as I can in an Ospreys shirt, it's as simple as that. I want to try and carry on where I left off in April last year, it's difficult to target anything else given the length of time I've been out. I had a taste of regional rugby a couple of seasons ago and I was starting to build up a reputation for myself and now I have to do it all over again. I can't think about anything else, or pay attention to anything that's said or written about me coming back, the only thing I have to answer to is my own expectations. And the signs so far are good for Lewis, who said: "I've had a full pre-season, taken as much a part as anyone else, so hopefully I will be involved in the games against Leeds and Gloucester, and we'll see where I am then. I may be ready to go from there, or the coaches and physio's may think that I need a bit more game time under my belt before being considered for selection in competitive matches for the Ospreys."
When the Wales squad were asked to nominate individuals who played a big part in their early playing days, Wales and Dragons full back and wing Hallam Amos thought of his former Monmouth School rugby coach John Bevan.
Sam Cross and Luke Treharne have been named as co-captains of the Wales Sevens side as head coach Gareth Williams names his 12-man squad to play in the first leg of the HSBC World Series in Dubai next weekend.
Bedwas head coach Steve Law and players Nicky Griffiths and Alun Rees extol the virtues of the close knit club as they prepare to host third place RGC 1404 - who are one place head of them on the Principality Premiership points table - on Saturday.
Many of the Wales squad have said Diolch (thank you) to someone who played an important part in their early playing days by nominating them to be invited to the Wales v South Africa match. One person, Gowerton Comprehensive geography teacher Mr Dean Mason was nominated by two of his former pupils, Dan Biggar and Sam Davies.
The second WRU disability rugby pilot has been delivered, this time in Caerphilly schools, culminating in a festival at the Caerphilly Centre of Sporting Excellence, Ystrad Mynach tomorrow. Plans are in place to set up a Disability Rugby Club in Newbridge to provide long-term playing opportunities.
WRU TV: Hear from inside the Wales camp as Neil Jenkins discusses this weekend's clash with South Africa and how the squad are looking to put in a strong performance to round of the 2016 Under Armour Series