With preparations for the 2019 Rugby World Cup underway, Cardiff Blues wing Owen Lane is determined to make an impression on the Wales coaches and push for a place in Warren Gatland’s 31-man squad.
The academy graduate was in blistering form for his home region during the business-end of last season, crossing for nine tries in 11 games since returning from a hamstring injury in January.
The national squad have faced a series of gruelling conditioning training as they aim to be in peak physical condition when the tournament kicks off in Japan in September.
Lane, who is one of two uncapped players in the squad, admits it’s a special feeling to be involved with the international set-up, but insists he’s not there to make up the numbers.
“It’s a big step-up in terms of intensity and the demands of training. I’d like to think I’m starting to adapt by now but I’m fully aware that the camp in Switzerland will be another step-up next week, so hopefully I can enjoy it out there and come back in one piece,” said the youngster.
“It’s pretty special, and as a youngster growing up in Wales you aspire to be in this environment. But now that I’m here, I’ve realised how hard it is to stay in the group and get yourself in the squad for the World Cup.
“That will be the main aim for everyone here. It’s been a settled squad recently so it will be a challenge for the boys who are currently outside that squad, but that’s why we’re here and when you get an opportunity you need to take it and see what comes by August.
“I don’t thing you ever feel ready. I think I’ve got the attributes to step up to this level but you’ll never find out until you’re tested at this level. Hopefully I can settle into the squad. Like I said, they’ve got a settled group and a team environment that’s pretty settled.
“At the moment I’m trying to learn from the other boys in this environment, and I still find it surreal to be surrounded by players of this calibre, and players I’ve grown up watching. Hopefully I can learn from them both on and off the field and emulate that.”
Lane is one of 10 Cardiff Blues academy products included in Gatland’s 42-man training squad, and will be challenging established international names such as Liam Williams, George North and Leigh Halfpenny for a place in the back three.
Also included in the back three ranks are Josh Adams and Hallam Amos, with the international duo set to arrive at Cardiff Arms Park next season, making the switch from Worcester Warriors and Dragons respectively.
Lane is relishing the health competition for places, and believes he can benefit from training with established international names.
The wing added: “Hallam and Josh are both world class players, and I knew that before I met with them and trained with them. You can learn from players like that. They’re older than me and have achieved more than me at the moment.
“I’ve got something to aim for and something to aspire to. I can pick up little things they do off the field and bring it into my training regime and my game.
“You need to remain positive and control what you can control. I know it’s a cliche but it does help your mental frame of mind.
“If you say you’re going to get fit and return to a good run of form and get yourself into this position, then it’s the same process again for the World Cup selection.
“You always keep your fingers crossed but injuries are part and parcel of the game. I’ve been disappointed to miss out on the squads before, and the injuries were a lay-off but I’ve learnt from those experiences and there were things I was doing in terms of my rehab and getting fit for games.
“They’ve a great medical department here, like they do at Cardiff Blues, and hopefully I’ll get it right, stay fit for the whole camp and put my hand up.
“If if it wasn’t for the injuries, once you’re in a camp like this it’s not something you want to let go. It’s special.
“I will be doing everything I can to stay here and that’s all I can do, and I’ll hope for the best.”