After making his Wales debut and enjoying a once in a lifetime opportunity in the Pacific, Dillon Lewis is determined to kick on with Cardiff Blues.
The 21-year-old tight-head prop endured an injury-ravaged season, largely due to ruptured toe ligaments, but finished the campaign on a high.
He was a late call-up to Wales’ summer tour, making his debut off the bench against Tonga and then starting against Samoa.
Lewis did not look out of place, which was all the more impressive given his previous prolonged absence, and he is determined to carry his summer momentum into regional rugby.
He said: “If you told me that in December, I wouldn’t have believed you. It’s a bit surreal and hasn’t sunk in yet to think I got my first cap (against Tonga), and then against Samoa with the start.
“It’s a once in a lifetime experience really to play Samoa in Samoa and Tonga in New Zealand – it’s definitely something I will remember and cherish.
“It was a massive experience for me, I gained loads of knowledge from the older boys that went and the coaches.
“Being injured (during the season) there was nothing better for me than carrying on my season a bit longer and playing a bit of rugby.
“The exposure I got was excellent for me. Obviously 21 and still learning my trade it was a brilliant experience.”
Lewis returned to full pre-season training on Monday and is now relishing the pre-season friendlies, which kick-off with a trip to London Scottish.
The Coleg y Cymoedd product is just one of several young, exciting front-row talents coming through at Wales’ Capital Region.
With Brad Thyer, Corey Domachowski, Kieron Assiratti and Rhys Carre all on the Blues’ books, Lewis is excited about the future.
He added: “Monday was tough, a lot of heavy lifting and quite a bit of rugby-based stuff as well.
“It’s good to get everyone in and see all the boys again after some time off and time away. I’m just looking to have a good pre-season, stay fit and get some game time under my belt.
“Last year was tough with how long the injury put me out for but I’m getting some momentum from the summer and hopefully I can take that into this pre-season. There’s two opportunities with games with London Scottish and Exeter Chiefs at home and then hopefully kick on into the season.
“With Assiratti, Corey Domachowski, Bradley Thyer there’s real young loose-heads and tight-heads but obviously there’s some older boys we can learn off as well. There’s a lot of experience there. It’s exciting to see where we can go.”
Tickets for Cardiff Blues versus Exeter Chiefs at Cardiff Arms Park on Friday, August 25 (7.15pm) are available now and are also included in Season Membership packages. You can buy both by clicking here.