Shane Lewis-Hughes has recalled the emotions that coursed through his body in the final moments before making his Wales debut in the autumn.
The abrasive Cardiff Blues flanker was a late call-up to Wayne Pivac’s squad after Ross Moriarty went down with an ankle injury.
Within a week, Lewis-Hughes was starting in the rescheduled Six Nations match against Scotland.
Suffice to say things moved pretty fast for the 23-year-old.
Speaking to Sam Warburton as part of the Land Rover Journey series, Lewis-Hughes revealed exactly what was going through his mind during the anthem ahead of his debut against the Scots.
“My mam – straight away,” he said, appearing to get a little emotional.
“She’s the biggest reason I do this, probably.
“When I think of everything she has sacrificed just to see my and my brother okay, that gives me so much burning ambition.
“I remember tearing up during the anthem and I was thinking of her.
“People might think ‘he’s crying in the anthem, he’s passionate about playing for Wales’ but I was just thinking about my mam.
“As soon as the anthem finished, I had this burning rage because I was like ‘there’s no way I’m letting my mother down today’.
“There are a lot of people that got me there but my mother was the biggest driving factor.
“I was like: ‘I’m doing this for my mam’.”
He did not let his mother down.
Lewis-Hughes went on to earn three caps during the autumn campaign, earning rave reviews from Pivac – who called him a “clone” of Alun Wyn Jones in terms of mindset and preparation – and the Wales skipper himself.
He admits to being a little in awe of his new team-mates when he first arrived in camp but convinced himself he deserved to be there having dedicated much of his life to reach that point.
“From the age of eight or nine, I knew exactly what I wanted to do,” explained the flanker, who is currently sidelined with a shoulder injury.
“Teachers in school used to ask what I wanted to do and I told them I’m going to play for Wales.
“They’d be like: ‘Yeah I know but –’ and then I’d just say: ‘No, there is no plan B, I’m playing for Wales’.
“I’d write down goals and tick them off until I got to that point.
“I remember that week and I’d been preparing for it my whole life, I thought ‘when I get this opportunity, there is no way I’m going to mess it up’.
“That week of training was mad, amongst Alun Wyn [Jones], Dan Biggar, Jonathan Davies and naturally you start to think whether you deserve to be there.
“But then I had an hour to myself, sat back and thought ‘you know what? I know for a fact there is not a person on this planet that has done more than me to get to this point’.”
Listening to him speak, it’s clear that Lewis-Hughes, who says he would run up mountains in the snow on Christmas Day as a youngster, is dedicated to his craft and confident in his ability.
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And another anecdote he provided from after his debut against Scotland speaks volumes of his mindset and ambition.
“I remember getting on to my girlfriend and my family, they were all in tears. I asked them not to make a fuss,” he said.
“They were saying: ‘What do you mean? You’ve just played for Wales!’
“And I said: ‘I know that but this is what I’m meant to do. This is what I set for myself. Anything short is failure’.”