THOMAS Young is ready to follow in the footsteps of his father Dai when he wins his first Wales cap against Tonga at Auckland's Eden Park on Friday.

Former Wales prop and current Wasps director of rugby Dai made his international bow as a 19-year-old club novice in Australia in 1987.

Now, almost 30 years to the day later, Thomas will step out for his first Wales appearance against the Pacific Islanders as one of three debutants in Robin McBryde's starting XV.

Dai, who coaches Thomas at Wasps, is flying out to watch his son in action.

The 25-year-old flanker said: "Dad did ask why I couldn't have got my first cap closer to home, but he and my family will be very proud. My parents and two brothers are coming out for the game and my girlfriend is here already.

"When I found out I had been picked, I texted my family. My parents are on the plane out here, so I'm not even sure if they know yet. They will have the message when they turn their phones on."

After a series of stand-out displays for Wasps, Rob Howley had no option other than to call Young up to his Six Nations squad last season.

He did not make an appearance in the tournament but after biding his time, Young will finally get the chance to wear the red shirt this weekend.

"I was chuffed to bits to get called into the squad for the Six Nations," he said. "I learned a lot in that eight-week period training alongside some of the best back-row forwards in the world.

"I roomed with Justin Tipuric and he helped mentor me. I was able to pick his brains and learn how he goes about things. He and Sam Warburton are world-class and I try to play like them."

With Warburton and Tipuric on British and Irish Lions duty working under Wales head coach Warren Gatland and his regular deputy Howley, Young gets his chance under McBryde as one of nine uncapped players in the Wales squad to face Tonga - three starting and six on the bench.

Young, who left Cardiff Blues after struggling for game time, joined Wasps where he credits his father for giving him a chance.

"I owe my dad a lot and I'm grateful to him," he said.

"He gave me my opportunity and backed me to do what he thought I could. Things didn't work out for me in Wales and I had to prove a lot of people wrong."

Wales' clash with Tonga forms part of a double-header of fixtures in Auckland and is the curtain-raiser to New Zealand's tie with Samoa.

Young starts at openside and he added: "Seeing your name go up on the board when the team is announced is a special feeling. It's something I'm incredibly proud of.

"I don't think it will hit home until after the game when I calm down a bit and realise I've got my first cap. I will be a bit nervous beforehand, but once I get out on the pitch I will be alright.

"There's a lot of pride in the Wales jersey. Hopefully I can do it justice and put a marker down."