Keiran Williams has been set the target of forcing his way into Wales’ Guinness Six Nations squad, having put the hangover from World Cup rejection behind him.
The 25-year-old Ospreys centre missed the cut for France after making his Test debut in the warm-up defeat to England at Twickenham in August.
His regional coach Toby Booth admits that would have been tough for him, but Williams looks to be fully over the disappointment of omission.
That was certainly how it appeared from his Player of the Match display in Sunday’s 31-9 BKT URC victory over arch west Wales rivals the Scarlets.
He helped himself to two tries, dabbing down from close range after joining the forwards at a rolling maul and then hitting a trademark line, coming back at an angle and powering his way to the whitewash despite the efforts of four defenders.
There was no stopping him and no disguising his delight after the game either.
“I don’t think it gets any better than that,” he said, reflecting on the bonus point triumph at the Swansea.com Stadium.
“Derby wins are special for us and we needed that, especially after the previous two weeks.
“I thought our forwards were outstanding and got us over the line. The boys were exceptional.
“We knew we had to dig deep because the injuries we picked up in the last couple of weeks were not good for us, but we have depth here and the boys stepped up.
“We can take this into the next round of BKT URC and then into Europe and hopefully the Christmas period will be good for us”
Having been talked about as a potential international for a number of years, Williams finally took his Test bow at Twickenham over the summer.
But he was limited to just 21 minutes as a replacement against England and then came the confirmation that he hadn’t made the World Cup squad.
“It was difficult for him,” admits Ospreys boss Booth.
“You get a taste of it and then you don’t get it. None of us like being rejected. You all remember that first girlfriend! It has an effect.
“Like a lot of those players who don’t make the final cut, there is a bit of a hangover from that and you need to put your arm round them and prepare them mentally and look at what we can control.
“You need to make sure you create an environment where you are supportive, but also say ‘Right, what are we going to do about it then?’
“To see the response from him and other boys that have missed out is great.
“Now he’s back playing and that’s ancient history. He’s got to look forward, keep performing well and try and force his way into the Six Nations squad.
“He obviously had a little taste of the Wales call-up which has energised him.
“All he can do is keep putting his hand up and keep performing well. It’s great to see him deliver a performance like that.”
Outlining the strengths of the 5ft 10ins, 15st 4lbs inside centre, Booth said: “He is a very, very dynamic player.
“Everyone talks about him not necessarily being the tallest, but it makes him very, very difficult to put down and you get quick ball off him to keep playing.”
Giving his own thoughts on the four-try win over the Scarlets, Booth added: “I am so pleased for the players to achieve that sort of result against our local rivals with 40 per cent injured and unavailable. That’s a lot of players and a lot of significant players.
“If you look at who was not available, that’s what I was really delighted about because they’ve not let that be an excuse and they really fronted up.
“So the resilience of the group was probably the most pleasing thing. The boys stepped up.
“We are delighted with the outcome especially on the back of a Welsh derby defeat (to the Dragons) the week before.”
Next up for the Ospreys is a BKT URC trip to Treviso to take on in-form Benetton Rugby on Saturday night.