It’s been quite the year for Dillon Lewis, from making his Guinness Six Nations bow against Italy last February, to a World Cup semi-final, to holding his own against some of the best props in the game.
The 24-year-old has risen through the ranks at a phenomenal speed in recent years, and has proved himself on the international stage with Wales as well as domestically for Cardiff Blues.
Despite Wales slipping to a 24-14 defeat to Ireland last weekend, the prop is still relishing what has been a manic 12 months, and the chance to play alongside childhood friends Tomos Williams and Jarrod Evans on the big stage.
“It’s what you dream of doing growing up as a rugby player. Packing down against the likes of Cian Healy in a Six Nations game is what you train for,” Lewis said.
“I want to test myself against the best. It’s exciting and I’m loving every minute of it.
“I’ve had an unconventional rise up to the Welsh squad but I’ve got take every opportunity I get to put my foot in the door.
“Tomos and Jarrod are unbelievable players and they’ve got some skills that many other players in the world haven’t got. It’s great to play alongside them.”
Wales return to Guinness Six Nations action next Saturday as they host France at Principality Stadium, looking to get back on track after their first Championship defeat since 2018 in Dublin.
Les Bleus have beaten England and Italy in their two matches so far this year, and Lewis knows his side will have to be at their best if they are to continue their quest to retain the title, following missed opportunities against Ireland.
“We mounted a lot of pressure on ourselves throughout that game with a few dropped balls,” said Lewis.
“We probably weren’t clinical enough sometimes with our exits so if you are giving teams possession five metres out from your try line it’s going to be a difficult one.
“With the way Ireland play they keep the ball really well and when they are five or ten metres out they are a hard team to stop. It’s definitely something we will be looking at.
“If that Hadleigh Parkes try was given it would have been a momentum swinger and we could have been coming away with a win.
“France were outstanding against England and there’s definitely areas we can exploit against them which we will be looking at. It will be an exciting test for us.
“I’m really looking forward to it and hopefully we can get things back on track.”