Versatile back David Richards is determined to build on his ‘special’ full debut when Dragons RFC head to South Africa in the BKT United Rugby Championship.
Richards was the two-try man-of-the-match hero as Zebre were swept aside in bonus point fashion last time out at Rodney Parade.
The 23-year-old – who has been impressing for Newport RFC at full back – was named on the wing against the Italians.
His first start was certainly an eye-catching one as he hacked ahead for a first half opener before his acrobatic finish put the gloss on a stunning team try in the second period.
“Starting was very special. I had family and friends down… even the cricket team I play for" smiled Richards.
“I had plenty of people in the crowd, plenty of familiar faces cheering me on, which was lovely.
“I'll be totally honest with you, I didn’t think I’d get the first try. When I first went over, I feared I was offside, I knew it was going to be very close. Thankfully, I think the camera angles might have done me a couple of favours.
“There was no doubt about the second one, but then I took the knock so was forced off.
“It was special to make that first start. I got to play eight minutes against Gloucester, but this was a different experience and one that I'll certainly remember for a while.
“It's a special place. I’ve played there a lot with Newport RFC, but it was a special opportunity to start for Dragons on home soil.”
Richards will now be aiming to build on that performance in upcoming league games with the Emirates Lions in Johannesburg and the DHL Stormers in Port Elizabeth.
And he has revealed how featuring in that game – alongside some of his young peers – has boosted his belief.
“Playing that game has done wonders for my confidence,” he admitted.
“I'm not saying I deserve to be here, but I certainly feel like I’ve earned a place in a Dragons jersey now and I have shown I can compete at this level and play at this level.
“I now just look forward to doing again in the future, as soon as possible, really.
“I have come through the system with the likes of Aneurin Owen and Will Reed. Coming up and then playing with them is nice. To not just be to be playing with people you know, but good friends.
“I will be fighting for a jersey and hopefully I will get some game time out in South Africa.”
Richards is aware of the size of the challenge in South Africa – no Welsh team is yet to win on the tour.
However, after impressing home shows he feels the team can attack the trip with right mindset.
“It’s slightly different opposition and a big test with real physicality, but one I am looking forward to facing,” said Richards.
“I've been to South Africa, but never on a rugby tour. It’s going to amazing with the stadiums and the grandeur around them, the atmosphere that South African rugby will bring.
“We have some big games on home soil coming up, but first up we have South Africa and none of the Welsh teams have won there yet. That's a big target that we'd want to hit.
“To be the first team to go out there and win would be nice. That's what we're aiming for, we're going out there to win.”