Wales prop Nicky Smith hoping to put Six Nations disappointment behind him
Last Updated: 11/06/17 11:40am
Nicky Smith is looking to put a disappointing Six Nations campaign behind him when Wales face Tonga on Friday in the first of two summer tour ties.
The 23-year-old loosehead prop started his country's gritty Six Nations clash with Italy in February and helped Rob Howley's men to a 33-7 victory at the Stadio Olimpico.
It was not enough to stop Rob Evans from replacing Smith in the number one shirt for the rest of the tournament though, but now the Ospreys forward is looking to the future.
With Evans nursing broken fingers, Smith is favourite to start for Wales at loosehead when they meet Tonga at Auckland's Eden Park, live on Sky Sports 1HD.
"I'm really excited to extend my season. At my age you want to play as much rugby as you can because you've got that desire to impress and keep working hard," he said.
"The Tests with Tonga and Samoa are a great opportunity for me to do just that. Everyone wants to start a game when you're in the squad - that's the reality.
"Going from starting the first game in Italy to being on the bench for the rest of the Six Nations was disappointing, but looking back on it, it wasn't the worst thing in the world to happen to me.
"I was disappointed at the time, but it was my first full Six Nations campaign and I was still involved in every game. That's not too bad, and it has made me more hungry moving forwards."
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Former Wales Under-20 star Smith has 12 senior international caps, but just three starts to his name. He faces a stern test of his scrum technique in the next few weeks against South Pacific pair Tonga and Samoa in consecutive weeks.
"Tonga and Samoa are big boys and one thing that has really improved in Pacific Island rugby in the last few years has been the set-piece," Smith added.
"They've always had strong forwards, but now their technique is very good too and it means we're going to be facing sides with a very strong scrum.
"As front-row forwards we want to give our team a strong platform and I've been working hard on that in training."