As he heads into a New Year his first priority is to consolidate his place in the Cardiff Blues side, rather than to harbour any thoughts of making Wayne Pivac’s Six Nations squad. The 23-year-old flanker knows that winning a place in the starting back row at his region is going to be easier said than done in 2021.
“The amount of talent in the back row department at the Blues is absolutely ridiculous. You could put anyone out and they would do a great job,” said Lewis-Hughes.
“I’m in a highly competitive environment at the Blues and just because I played for Wales in the autumn doesn’t mean I can start for the region. I have to prove myself in every game I play for the Blues – that’s my job and that’s what I love.”
Lewis-Hughes was joined by clubmate Jim Botham in winning his first cap to give John Mulvhill a huge headache when it comes to picking his back row. With Josh Navidi and Ellis Jenkins ready to return by the end of the month it means he has five internationals to choose from, as well as Olly Robinson and Wales U20 cap Gwilym Bradley.
“To have Ellis and Navs back is great, but you do you drop? That’s the luxury we’ve got at the moment and it is definitely a headache for the coaches,” added Lewis-Hughes.
“I made a joke to Ellis the other day. I asked him to let me know when he’s ready to return so I could give Cardiff RFC a call to see if I could get a game in the Premiership.
“If you look across the four regions there are so many good back row players. There is so much strength in depth and everything really is up for grabs. Playing in the back row has taken over from filling the No 10 jersey for youngsters in Wales.
“There are no guarantees and you have to perform in every game. I am always trying to fight for something and know that someone is trying to take what you’ve got off you.”
He has been destined for great things ever since he launched his rugby career with the Rhondda Schools and played at Coleg y Cymoedd, but his rise to the top has probably come more quickly than people imagined. Even he didn’t think he was going to be anything other than cannon fodder when he got called up to the Welsh squad.
“It has been a bit of a whirlwind and if you had told me this time last year that I would be sat here with three Welsh caps I’d have bitten your hand off,” he added.
“It was unexpected and when I was called into the squad I thought I would just be making up the numbers and be trying to impress in training. Given the opportunity against Scotland, Ireland and England was just brilliant and I learned a lot.
“But I know I haven’t achieved anything yet. There is still a long way to go before I’ve achieved what I want to in the game – this is just a start.
“I want to keep pushing for Welsh honours and to play at the highest level possible in 2021.”