CORY Hill may be in the strange situation of being the veteran lock in the Wales squad but the Newport Gwent Dragons forward has gone on tour with the same hard-grafting approach.

The 25-year-old has just five caps to his name but he is the seasoned campaigner among the second rows in the absence of Lions lock Alun Wyn Jones, the injured Jake Ball and Luke Charteris and unavailable Bradley Davies.

Hill has been made centre Jamie Roberts’ vice-captain for the summer tour that pits Wales against Tonga tomorrow then Samoa next week.

He will be to the fore of the efforts at Eden Park in Auckland after being named as the sole specialist lock in the 23-man squad, partnering uncapped Cardiff Blues lock/back row Seb Davies with in-form Scarlets blindside Aaron Shingler their cover.

There is a great amount of responsibility on the shoulders of Hill but, given that this time last year he was way down the Test pecking order, the lock isn’t taking anything for granted.

“It’s been exciting to be in a camp with a lot of new faces and a nice balance of youth and experience,” said Hill.

“I suppose in the second row I am the most experienced now because I have been involved in a couple of camps but it’s still quite new to me.

“It took a little while to settle into the Wales squad but I think that I have now and I am hoping to kick on.

“I’ve taken every campaign as it comes, keeping my head down and working hard, but this is definitely a massive chance for me to stake my claim and put in a few decent performances.

“If I do that then hopefully I can keep myself in the Welsh set-up for the next one [in the autumn] because you want to have back-to-back campaigns and this is a third now.”

Hill will be calling the shots in a pack that boasts just 51 caps between them with props Nicky Smith and Tomos Francis, hardly veterans, the only ones to be in double figures.

The Dragons man is joined by Davies and uncapped Ospreys pair Rory Thornton and Adam Beard as options at lock and is relishing a leadership role.

He said: “With all the senior second rows that are not here, I’ve had a little bit more input and guess I’ve had to lead a bit more, and lead by example,” he said.

“It’s been good and we have got very good locks among the squad and young boys looking for their first caps. The tour is a good challenge for everyone.”

Wales face a tough test against the Tongans and a Samoa side who will prosper from locking horns with New Zealand at Eden Park.

The management will learn plenty about players who have their chance to shine while the Lions are absent.

“It’s going to be a really physical tour with a fair few offloads,” said Hill. “We know what to expect and know we have to bring our A game to win two Tests, which is our aim.

“We know it’s going to be a tough tour and it’s never going to be easy playing Tonga in front of a big Islander community in Auckland then Samoa in Samoa.

“But it’s going to be a great experience for every single one of us.”