Owen Lane admits it is a dream come true to win his first Wales cap and he is determined to make the most of the opportunity when he faces Ireland on Saturday.
The Cardiff Blues ace has been rewarded for his fine form on the regional stage with an international debut and it is a case of third time lucky after he was ruled out of two previous squads due to injury.
With a handful of places still up for grabs before Warren Gatland names his 31-man World Cup squad on Sunday, Lane is acutely aware of the importance of his opportunity to impress.
He said: “I was initially very excited and it’s obviously a proud moment for me and my family but there are a few nerves creeping in because it’s a big occasion and I want to put my best foot forward.
“It’s a cliché that you try and treat it like any other game but it’s definitely going to be a big occasion, the biggest occasion I’ve probably played in.
“This was always something I hoped would happen but not something I’m saying I expected to happen, especially at such an early age, and I know Rhys (Carré) feels the same.
“We’re very privileged and very lucky to be in this situation and I hope I can go out and make the most of this. I don’t want to come off the field and feel I let the opportunity or moment pass because you only get your first cap once.
“There’s been a lot said about the injuries and maybe I would have had a chance earlier, but you can’t dwell on things like that. This is the time now, and I feel like I’m prepared, I’m looking forward to it and hopefully I can do my best.
“There are places up for grabs and in the back three there’s an opportunity - if you put your best foot forward, you can hopefully put your hand up to get a place on the plane.”
Lane, who bagged 11 tries in 18 appearances last season, is one of five Cardiff Blues involved at the Principality Stadium and hopes to have a large family contingent in the stands.
He admits his first few weeks in camp were something of a wake-up call, but he is now up to full speed in the international environment and determined to succeed.
The 21-year-old continued: “I’m really grateful that my family can come down and hopefully I have a big group there and it will be special for everyone.
“There are too many coaches to mention. From a young boy to the senior level there are loads of coaches that have helped me along the way. There are boys here like George North and Josh Adams, all the back three players have been really helpful in the transition of me coming into this environment.
“The last few months have been physically demanding and when I first came into camp, I was probably a bit undercooked, but I’ve settled quite well and while these last two weeks haven’t been as intense, the rugby has stepped up and the detail has stepped up.
“It’s going to be a quick game probably something quicker than I’ve ever experienced before but hopefully I can find my feet early doors, get an early touch and try to settle my nerves as much as I can.
“We’re not really focusing on the latter (competing for World Cup places), it is a Test match at the end of the day, and we want to win the game. There is competition for places and there’s definitely places up for grabs, so the boys want to perform well individually but as a team and collective we want to get the win.”
Lane is also delighted for Cardiff Blues teammate Jarrod Evans, who starts for the first time for Wales, pulling on the number 10 jersey.
The serious knee injury to Gareth Anscombe opened the door for Evans and he is now in a straight shootout with fellow Blues academy product Rhys Patchell for a place on the plane to Japan.
Lane added: “It’s well deserved for Jarrod. Everyone knows how well he’s been playing for the last two years regionally and he’s played well when he’s come off the bench in the games.
“I’m really looking forward to seeing him do his thing and really happy that I get to share the field with him. Obviously, it’s really nice for us and it makes it a lot easier for me that I’m comfortable playing with Jarrod and have been for the last few years.
“Hopefully Jarrod can play well and get on that plane, he deserves a chance.”