The Scarlets’ brightest new star has praised the region for it’s willingness to give youth a chance.
Tavis Knoyle won a dream call up to the senior Wales squad earlier this week and the young scrum-half was quick to thank Nigel Davies and the Scarlets coaching staff for giving him the opportunity to play at the highest level.
Knoyle only moved to the region last summer having begun his career at the Ospreys but the 19-year-old made an immediate impression in his first season in Llanelli.
A former Wales U16, U18 and U20 regular, Knoyle made his Magners League debut against Cardiff Blues in September and went on to make a total of 10 league appearances this term.
Knoyle made five starts and five replacements appearances, winning a deserved Man-of-the-Match award against Ulster in early March as he vied with another previous Wales tourist in Martin Roberts for the Scarlets No9 shirt.
"It was a great shock when the text message came through telling me I was to be called up and it goes to show how much the Scarlets believe in the youngsters, and giving youngsters a chance,” said Knoyle, who has been described by Davies as just as an exciting a talent as both Mike Phillips and Dwayne Peel.
"Moving out of the Ospreys region to the Scarlets was a big move at the time, but it was an easy decision to be honest with you because there was a lot of competition for the position at the Ospreys.
"The Scarlets have been absolutely great to me since I joined. Nigel promised me that I’d be part of this team and that I’d get game time and that is exactly what has happened.
"I’ve had to work hard for it. When I came down here I needed to shed a few pounds which I did with the conditioning team and I’ve learnt a lot of things already – I want to get as much on board as quickly as possible.
"Being involved this season and playing with the Scarlets has been great for me and once you’ve had a taste of it, you want it all the time and you get annoyed if you don’t play well."
Scrum-half has long been one of the most competitive positions in Welsh rugby, with the likes of Lions stars Phillips, Peel and Gareth Cooper battling it out alongside Roberts and new Blues cap Richie Rees.
Knoyle could become the latest addition to that list against South Africa or New Zealand this summer and he certainly won’t be daunted by the prospect of challenging one of the best No9s in world rugby for a Test spot.
Phillips has established himself alongside Fourie du Preez as the top scrum-half in the global game, yet Knoyle has already been compared to his Ospreys counterpart.
At 6ft 1in and 16st, Knoyle shares a similar build to the Wales No1. A huge fan of the way Phillips plays the game, the former Neath youngster is looking forward to picking up a few tips over the next two months.
"Mike Phillips has been my favourite player, I’ve played against him, he’s been my idol and he’s the player I’ve always looked at and wanted to be like," added Knoyle.
"I’ve got the greatest respect for him and I’ve got to try and nick some things from him and concentrate.
"He’s a great player and playing alongside someone like him will be fantastic.”