IT was the briefest of cameos when Cory Hill won his third cap in the 2016 win against South Africa but a year later the Dragons captain wants to be in the thick of claiming a Springboks scalp.

The lock came off the bench for Luke Charteris in the 79th minute of the 27-13 success when the sides met at Principality Stadium last autumn.

This afternoon (kick-off 2.30pm) the 25-year-old will have 4 on his back when packing down next to talisman Alun Wyn Jones.

Hill enjoyed a remarkable rise last season to win his first cap as a replacement against Australia before going on to face Japan, the Boks, Italy, England and Tonga, plus he linked up with the Lions as injury cover.

The Dragons skipper has picked up where he left off and has won caps against the Wallabies, Georgia and New Zealand.

Jake Ball’s injury misfortune not only meant an early appearance off the bench against the All Blacks but a first start against a southern hemisphere big gun.

“It’s my first start against one of the ‘top three’, so it’s a big challenge and hopefully I can step up, enjoy the task ahead and get a big win,” he said.

“It’s my tenth cap and reaching double figures is a bit of an achievement and a proud moment for me and my family.”

Hill call-up to the last autumn squad was a surprise but the lock kept his place for the Six Nations and the summer tour before once again getting the nod from Warren Gatland.

“All campaigns are exciting, you come in and it’s like first day at school,” said the Dragons man, who is joined by Jones, Adam Beard and Seb Davies in the squad.

“You have to treat every campaign like it’s your first and it’s been a really enjoyable one and there are a lot of new faces around. It’s been one where we are moving forward and building towards the World Cup.”

Hill will be the fore in a patched up Wales tight five that has just two first-choice starters – Jones and loosehead Rob Evans.

With reserve hooker Kristian Dacey wearing 2 and Scott Andrews only playing in the absence of a Samson Lee, Tomas Francis and Leon Brown, forwards coach Robin McBryde knows they must avoid an arm wrestle against the physical Boks.

“South Africa have got a very good driving lineout, they base their game around gaining penalties and territory from driving lineouts and really strangling the opposition. If we allow them to play that type of game, then we are going to make it hard for ourselves,” he said.

“We are very fortunate that Scott Andrews has benefited massively from game time at Bath (on loan from Cardiff Blues).

“He has been scrummaging excellently, Kristian Dacey has been itching to have his opportunity and Cory has been one of the most improved players over the last 12 months.

“We know South Africa are going to target us in that area, but I am confident we will be able to match what they are going to bring at us.”

“As a team, we can help the front five by moving them (South Africa) around the field a little bit and tiring them out so they don’t keep all their energy for the set-piece work. I thought our work in the tight five was excellent last week.”

Wales: L Halfpenny; H Amos, S Williams, H Parkes, S Evans; D Biggar, A Davies; R Evans, K Dacey, S Andrews, C Hill, A W Jones (captain), A Shingler, J Navidi, T Faletau.

Replacements: E Dee, W Jones, R Jones, S Davies, D Lydiate, R Webb, R Patchell, O Watkin.

South Africa: A Coetzee; A Leyds, J Kriel, F Venter, W Gelant; H Pollard, R Cronje; S Kitshoff, M Marx, W Louw, E Etzebeth (captain), L de Jager, S Kolisi, P-S du Toit, D du Preez.

Replacements: B Mbonambi, T Nyakane, R Dreyer, O Mohoje, U Cassiem, L Schreuder, E Jantjies, L Am.

Referee: Jerome Garces (France).