Head coach Kingsley Jones believes lock Cory Hill’s inclusion in Wales’ autumn squad can be the ideal springboard for many more of his Newport Gwent Dragons to have a shot at international honours.
A rib injury to Scarlets’ Jake Ball has opened the door for a potential international debut for Hill, with internationals against Australia, Argentina, Japan and South Africa to come at the Principality Stadium within the next month.
Hill is one of three Dragons in the Autumn series squad, joining Hallum Amos and Tyler Morgan, though Hill is the only forward to represent his region in Rob Howley’s squad.
Particularly impressive in Guinness PRO12 action over the past 12 months, the Pontypridd-born man had previously plied his trade with the Cardiff Blues, joining the Men of Gwent from English Championship side Moseley in 2013.
And while Jones feels his lock’s inclusion is a step in the right direction, the 47-year-old is confident Hill still has plenty more to offer.
“It is great news for him and for the Dragons, and him being selected shows that all the regions’ players are being looked at,” Jones said.
“It’s well deserved, he’s been very patient and shown a lot of maturity in the last 12 months, he’s an excellent line-out leader and his biggest asset is his understanding and maturity.
“If it doesn’t come in the next month, I’m sure a first cap will come for him, he’s still only 24 which is young for a lock.”
While the number of Dragons in the international setup is limited to three so far, Jones believes it is only a matter of time before that number goes up and up.
And for Jones, himself a former Welsh international, the inclusion of Hill can be a big influence on the rest of the squad, particularly for the those battling it out in a congested front pack at Rodney Parade.
“[Number eight] Harrison Keddie’s inclusion in the training group, prop Leon Brown’s inclusion, that’s a positive for us and having conversations with Rob Howley, those players have a bright future if they continue on the right path,” he continued.
“We’d like to think that hooker Ellliot Dee if he’d been fit he’d have been knocking on the door, and flanker Ollie Griffiths too.”
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