Wales' tour of Japan
Baker ready to seize Test chance
ESPN Staff
June 1, 2013
Wales' Dan Baker tries to break through the New Zealand defence. New Zealand v Wales, IRB U20 World Championship, Newlands Stadium, Cape Town, South Africa, June 17, 2012
Dan Baker is hoping he can add a full cap to his U20, U18 and U16 Welsh caps © Getty Images

Dan Baker is ready to take the latest step on his meteoric rise through the ranks of Welsh rugby by forcing his way into the Wales side on their tour of Japan.

The No.8 has yet to start a match for the Ospreys having made just three appearances off the bench this season. The 20-year-old spent most of the past year playing for Swansea in the semi-professional Welsh Premiership, but despite his lack of experience he knows that he has the chance to stake a claim for a place in the team for the first Test on June 8 in Osaka.

"It has been a massive jump from club to international rugby, even just with the training," Baker said. "I was in shock at first but I've been working hard on conditioning to get myself right for the tour. That side of my game hasn't been the best but it's coming along."

The tour squad is Wales' most inexperienced ever with 10 uncapped players and nine with fewer than five appearances under their belts. The squad is also shorn of the 15 players on British & Irish Lions duty as well as head coach Warren Gatland and assistants Rob Howley and Neil Jenkins.

In the past, tours during a Lions series have allowed a number of players to play their way into the Wales squad. On the 2009 tour to North America, Sam Warburton, Jonathan Davies and Richard Hibbard all took early steps in their Test careers and they are currently part of the Lions tour en route to Australia.

If he does win a cap on tour, it will complete a rise that featured him winning caps at Under-16, Under-18 and Under-20 level. "It's an exciting trip to Japan," he said. "There are quite a few youngsters in the squad but they are good all players and we all look back at what happened four years ago when Wales toured at the same time as the British Lions.

"A lot of boys came through on that trip, including Sam Warburton, Jonathan Davies and Richard Hibbard and look where they are now. I know this is a chance I have to take. I would love to get on the pitch and play against Japan who can't be underestimated."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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