By Rob Cole
Dillon Lewis is fast becoming a lucky talisman for Wales on tour in Argentina.
The Cardiff Blues tight-head prop has won all four caps to date overseas and he has yet to be on the losing side.
Lewis has started in three of those wins and has an eye on another run out in the No.3 shirt in Buenos Aires this weekend.
Not bad for a 22-year-old rookie front rower who has only started eight games in his 33-match Blues career. The potential has always been there for all to see and, over the past two weekends in Washington and San Juan, he has stood tall in two amazing Welsh pack performances.
“I’ve had a few frustrations throughout the season with injuries and game time, so coming into the Wales squad environment means you have to take on board as much as you can as quickly as you can,” said Lewis.
“You are chucked into the deep end, but being around these coaches and experienced players is priceless for boys like me, as a young and inexperienced tight-head. It is also very enjoyable.
“There was a lot of chat last week about how inexperienced we were as a pack, but we all understood we had a job to do at scrum time. It was a really enjoyable game from that aspect and I think both personally and collectively we can take a lot out of that win.”
Having two of the game’s most experienced tight-heads around in Gethin Jenkins and Tau Filise at the Blues has given Lewis an insight into what it takes to prepare for the international arena and so far it has been very much a question of swimming not sinking.
He made his Wales debut as a replacement against Tonga in Auckland in 2017 and then started in the win over Samoa in Apia the next week. He managed only four starts in 15 appearances for the Blues last season, but could match that number in Welsh caps in the past 12 months if he starts the second Test against the Pumas.
“If someone had told me before we came away that I would have started one, never mind two, games I would have said ‘rubbish’. It would be a massive achievement for me to get a third start this weekend,” said Lewis.
“I go into the games trying to give the best I can and I hope I’ve put up my hand for selection for this week. The coaches have got one eye on the World Cup and so it is great for the younger players like myself to have this exposure and be able to push our claims for the World Cup.
“It is 12 or so months away from the World Cup and it is out there that these games will play a big part in the thinking of the coaches. That means it is very much in all our minds that the World Cup is just around the corner.”
Dillon Lewis’ Welsh Record
23/06/17 Tonga 6-24 Wales Auckland – Used Rep (78th min)
23/06/17 Samoa 17-19 Wales Apia – Started (played 65 mins)
02/06/18 Wales 22-20 South Africa Washington DC – Started (played 53mins)
09/06/18 Argentina 10-23 Wales San Juan – Started (played 53 mins)