Scott Baldwin: Hooker targets Wales return after omission
|Pro14: Ospreys v Cardiff Blues|
|Venue: Liberty Stadium, Swansea Date: Saturday, 6 January Kick-off: 15:15 GMT|
|Coverage: Live on S4C; updates on the BBC Sport website and app|
If there is one man who was glad to see the back of 2017, it was Scott Baldwin.
After a year in which he was bitten on the hand by a lion in a freak accident that could have ended his career and lost his place in the Wales squad, Baldwin is targeting an improved 2018.
"The incident in South Africa and not being selected for Wales gave me the kick up the backside I needed," the Ospreys hooker told BBC Sport Wales.
"I'd be lying if I said the 2019 World Cup was not in the back of my mind."
Baldwin hopes to return to add to his 34 caps and force his way back into Warren Gatland's thinking.
"It was gut wrenching watching from the outside," said Baldwin after he missed the Autumn internationals.
"I strive to get back in that squad but need to keep plugging away here in the Ospreys jersey."
Baldwin could have lost his left hand after he was bitten by a lion while on tour in South Africa.
The hooker suffered a serious infection after being bitten while stroking the animal at the Weltevrede Game Lodge.
After a series of clean-out operations in Bloemfontein, he was rushed to hospital when he returned to Wales where he recovered.
Baldwin's return to form was evident with his try-scoring performance in the Ospreys' New Year's Eve victory over the Dragons at Rodney Parade where Baldwin again received comments about his infamous lion bite.
"Every time I go to a lineout in away matches it seems something is said," added Baldwin.
"It was a serious incident but you have to look back on it with humour.
"It will be a boring world if we keep the seriousness going on.
"It is banter and brings a smile to my face in the game which is something in my all round game recently.
"I have started enjoying playing again and that's a massive thing."