Mason Grady admits his Wales under-20 call-up came as a surprise but feels like he benefitted from his first experience at that level.
The 17-year-old, who is still eligible for under-18 rugby, was drafted into Gareth Williams’ Six Nations side and played in Wales’ last three fixtures in the Championship.
The Cardiff Blues academy member played his part in the stunning wins over France and England, and also featured in the final round defeat to Scotland in Colwyn Bay.
Grady, who has also played for Cardiff Blues A and Pontypridd this season, says the memorable wins over France and England shows Wales’ ability as a team.
“It was a bit of a shock to be called up. I came into the camp two weeks before the game against France and the boys were really welcoming and made sure I knew all the moves,” said Grady.
“The coaches were really helpful as well so it was a really enjoyable experience to be fair.
“I knew Gareth Williams from playing with Wales under-18 as well, and it helped to know coaches like Babs and Gethin Jenkins as well.
“We came together as a team very well. It’s a tough competition because every team is capable of beating anyone else on their day.
“It’s always good to beat England, and it was great to beat France as well, as they’re the current world champions.
“England have won the under-20 Six Nations eight times, and to win those games was especially good on the back of losses against Italy and Ireland earlier in the competition.
“I’ve been playing at 13 a lot this season so it was about getting used to moving onto the wing.
“The level was a little bit higher than what I’ve played before but I really enjoyed the challenge.
“Like I said, I really didn’t expect to be called up to this level this year. I was expecting to play for Wales under-18.
“It’s really exciting for me to potentially have two more years of this.”
The 17-year-old is currently studying towards his A Levels at Ysgol Gyfun Bro Morgannwg.
He is excited by the progress he’s made during his first year as an academy member but is determined to keep his head down and continue to work hard.
The Wales under-20 international added: “I’ve just wanted to take it game-by-game this year. It’s a case of learning from the boys around me, especially the older boys.
“I think I have improved this year but I’m going to continue to take it game-by-game and see how it goes.
“The coaches have been unreal, and I feel like I’ve come a long way since the summer.
“They’re really helpful and I feel like I’m able to go talk to them when I need to and they’ve really helped to improve my game.”