By Steffan Thomas
Taine Basham is hoping to use this summer’s tests against Argentina and Canada as a steppingstone towards the 2023 Rugby World Cup.
The 21-year-old Dragons openside has trained with Wales in previous squads but is expected to finally win his first cap at the Principality stadium next month.
He has long been considered one of Welsh rugby’s brightest prospects but fell down the openside pecking order following a broken arm suffered in January.
— Dragons (@dragonsrugby) June 11, 2021
But a series of outstanding performances in the Rainbow Cup impressed Wayne Pivac, and he is hell bent on forcing his way into the Kiwi’s plans for the 2023 World Cup.
“Everything is about building towards the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France,” he said.
“Wayne mentioned that he’s used over 50 odd players so far so that he can have a look at them. It’s all about putting my hand up and trying my best to get on the trip in 2023.
“Whether I’m starting or coming off the bench I need to make an impact, put my best foot forward, and put my hand up.
“The arm injury was a bit of a setback and then the boys at the Dragons, who also have a very competitive back-row, played well.
“I had to find a way to get back to form and hit top gear when I was back. Towards the end of the season with the Rainbow Cup that was a great opportunity for me to get some gametime and get back into it.”
If a highlights reel of Basham’s best moments was put together the Youtube viewing figures would be extremely high such is his class in broken play. Basham has always been a player who can do things on a rugby field which others couldn’t even envisage, but far more is needed to become a test match openside.
As Dragons director of rugby Dean Ryan said last week Basham has now developed a real all-round game, with an appreciation for the dark arts of back-row play having propelled his game to the next level.
Basham concurs with Ryan’s assessment and is confident he is ready to make his mark on the international stage.
“I want to get my hands on the ball a lot so I can carry and get over the gain line for the team and put my best foot forward for the boys,” he said.
“It’s been about focusing on the fundamentals of the game like the set-piece, my defence, and the contact area. It’s been about improving those areas for me and those are areas which may differentiate you from other people.
“It’s about having a good all-round game which allows you to play well.
“Simon Cross the Dragons defence coach has also really helped me a lot throughout the season with the breakdown and how to analyse a game.
“With Dean at the Dragons it’s all about the fundamentals of rugby, defence and attack, and collisions. He’s kept things simple, and I’ve really benefited from that.”