NEWPORT Gwent Dragons captain Andrew Coombs has pledged to keep training his heart out in a bid to earn a place on Wales’ tour to South Africa.
The 29-year-old has frequently impressed the national coaches with his efforts at the Vale of Glamorgan headquarters.
Training hard and staying focused has earned him 10 caps and he acknowledges he will need to step it up if he is to add to that tally against the Springboks.
Coombs will be in the possibles squad for the Wales trial on Friday along with Bradley Davies and Ian Evans while the probables field Alun Wyn Jones, Luke Charteris and Jake Ball.
The Dragons man appears to be at the back of the queue, but that has often been the case since his first call-up for the 2013 Six Nations.
“There are a few guys that are set in stone and Gats is 100 per cent taking but I am sure there are a few slots open,” said the lock. “I’ve just got to work hard and play well to try and get on that trip.
“Competition is really strong in the second row at the moment so it will be difficult but there is nothing more you can do than give it your all.
“That’s been my approach throughout my Wales career and it won’t change. The coaches always watch closely in training and want to see who is putting in the effort.
“Training will be tough and I am sure the game will be quite tense because there is nothing you want to do more than put on that red shirt.”
Coombs’ versatility may aid his bid for selection. Gatland will select a 31-man squad for South Africa with the Tuesday game against Eastern Province Kings taking place just four days before the first Test.
That means the players that will be on the bench in the opener against the Springboks will feature in some shape for the ‘dirt-trackers’.
Coombs can cover both lock and the back row, something that he is likely to do more frequently for his region next season.
He played just once at blindside in 204/15 – the Amlin Challenge Cup encounter with Mogliano – but could shift back to provide the Dragons with a more abrasive back row option.
Director of rugby Lyn Jones has signed experienced locks Ligtoring Landman and Ian Gough to join the promising trio of Cory Hill, Matthew Screech and Joe Davies.