Wales v Japan: Dafydd Howells in shock over 'surreal' tour call

Dafydd Howells

JAPAN V WALES

Venues:
Hanazono Stadium, Osaka & Prince Chichibu Memorial Rugby Ground, Tokyo
Dates:
Saturdays 8 & 15 June, 2013
Kick-offs:
06:00 BST
Coverage - First-Test:
(Osaka) - Live on BBC One Wales, BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru & online
Coverage - Second Test :
(Tokyo) - Live on S4C, BBC Radio Cymru, BBC Radio Wales & BBC online

Neath teenager Dafydd Howells says he is still coming to terms with his selection for Wales' tour to Japan.

Howells, 18, is the youngest player named in the 27-man squad for two-match Test series in June

The wing has played only seven games of senior rugby - five with Neath in the Principality Premiership and two for Ospreys in the LV= Cup.

"It still hasn't hit home that I'm going to Japan and leaving [Thursday] morning," said Howells.

"It's still a bit surreal. It's a huge opportunity for me and I need to grab it with both hands."

The highly-rated teenager, who is 6ft and weighs 15st and 1lbs, scored a try in Neath's 34-12 Swalec Cup final defeat by Pontypridd and is expected to be fast-tracked into the Ospreys squad for the 2013-14 season.

Despite his limited appearances, Howells won this season's Principality Premiership Newcomer of the Year award.

He will tour to Japan with the full Wales side as Neath's only current representative in the squad and is one of 10 uncapped players in caretaker coach Robin Mcryde's squad.

Rhys Patchell, Owen Williams, Josh Navidi, Emyr Phillips, Scott Baldwin, Andries Pretorius, James King, Steven Shingler and Dan Baker are the other newcomers in a squad missing 15 frontline players away on Lions duty in Australia.

Other senior internationals, such as Ryan Jones, James Hook and Paul James, have been left out.

"This is by far the biggest moment of my career so far," said Howells.

"I'm expecting it to be tough, and I hear it's hot out there right now so it'll be difficult.

"It'll be a great experience to be around players like Bradley Davies and Dan Biggar who have been in the Six Nations team. Playing with people of that calibre is massive."

Neath coach Neil Edwards is confident that Howells will be able to hold his own in a new-look Wales squad in Japan.

"I'm absolutely chuffed for Dafydd," Edwards said. "He's only 18 and I'm sure his family are really proud of him, as we are of course.

"It's fantastic news for him, he's an absolutely cracking player and really deserves his chance. I'm surprised how quickly it's come for him seeing as the first Premiership game he played was on Boxing Day when we beat Aberavon.

"But that shows how strong a player he is and how well he's come on. He was an important part of our team in the run up to our Cup Final appearance and we hope that he will be with us again next season."

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