PROP Cerys Hale intends to show her new-found mean streak when she takes to the field with Wales at the Women’s World Cup next week.

On Saturday the 24-year-old loosehead from Newport will fly to Ireland ahead of the tournament that pits them against New Zealand, Canada and Hong Kong in a daunting Pool A.

First up are the Black Ferns at Billings Park in Dublin and Hale is desperate to get out in the middle after a frustrating time at France 2014.

The prop was a member of the Wales squad but didn’t play and was then dropped from the squad for the Six Nations the following year.

The disappointments only served to strengthen Hale’s resolve and she won her elusive first cap against Ireland at Donnybrook in 2016.

The Dragons captain has since made eight international appearances and is keen to show that she has made rapid strides since the last tournament.

“The last World Cup was my first involvement with the Welsh squad,” she said. “It was a great experience but at the same time it was disappointing not to play.

“When I didn’t make the Six Nations squad it was a bit of a kick up the bum and I had lots of things to work on.”

That conditioning and skills work led to Hale getting another chance and the ability to complete her own ‘grand slam’.

“Going into the Six Nations my aim was to gain five more caps,” she said. “I got one start [against Scotland] and played in all of the others.

“Before the Six Nations I set that goal and achieved it but looking back I definitely think that I could’ve done more.

“I have been working on my game since and have looked at developing a physical mindset – I was bit soft perhaps!

“I’m looking to toughen up mentally and [forwards coach, former Dragons and Wales hooker] Paul Young has helped with that and as I prop I am learning so much from him after originally being a second row.”

Rowland Phillips’ squad endured a frustrating Six Nations in which they opened up with a win in Italy but lost all other games, narrowly to Ireland and Scotland, to finish fifth.

Wales are underdogs in a daunting group featuring the Kiwis and Canadians, ranked two and three in the world, but there is confidence in the camp.

“We are all really excited and have been working hard since the since the Six Nations, which was a bit disappointing,” said Hale.

“This tournament puts us up against teams we don’t normally play against and a game against New Zealand might come around once in a career.

“As a squad there is a real sense of belief and we won’t be going into any game expecting anything other than a win. We know what we are capable of and I am confident we will show it.”

Regardless of events in Ireland, Hale is already an inspiration to many thanks to her support of the Jesters in Ebbw Vale and Knights in Newport, two cluster centres that cater for girls from under-9s to under-15s.

But the prop, a teacher in Hereford after previously working in Brynmawr, hopes that August will showcase the excellence of Test rugby to wider audience.

“I love doing bits for the Dragons Under-18s and the clusters, it’s lovely to see opportunities that weren’t around for me,” said Hale, who plays club rugby for Pontyclun Falcons after first taking up rugby at Newport High School Old Boys.

“There is real buzz around women’s sport at the moment with the Cricket World Cup and England in the football, so we will be looking to build on that.”

Six other Dragons are in the squad – tighthead Megan York, lock Rebecca Rowe, scrum-half Sian Moore, fly-half Elinor Snowsill and centres Gemma Rowland and Rebecca De Filippo.

Wales kick off against New Zealand on Wednesday, August 9 (2.45pm, Dublin) before taking on the Canadians on Sunday, August 13 (5pm, Dublin) and Hong Kong on Thursday, August 17 (5.15pm, Dublin).

The action then moves to Belfast with the semi-finals and first play-offs for placings on Tuesday, August 22 and the final day on Saturday, August 26, the showpiece event at Ulster’s Ravenhill home.