TAINE Basham may have been likened to Justin Tipuric by his Dragons boss but the teenage flanker hopes that some pearls of wisdom from tenacious teammate Nic Cudd can help him grasp an unexpected opportunity at the Scarlets tomorrow.

The 18-year-old from Talywain will make his regional debut at openside against the Guinness PRO14 champions in Llanelli (kick-off 7.35pm).

Highly-rated Basham has been fast-tracked because of a back row injury crisis and becomes the eighth teenager to make his Dragons bow this season.

Nonetheless, the flanker was still expecting to be being put through his paces by Wales Under-20s boss Jason Strange this week rather than preparing for the Scarlets.

"I came in for the first day back and Bernard (Jackman, head coach) came up and said that I am starting," said Basham.

"This week I was hoping to be in the Under-20s training camp, that was my plan, and then Bernard said I was starting against the Scarlets. It was a lot to take in but you've got to stay cool!

"Other boys like Dan Babos, Josh Reynolds and Lennon Greggains have had their opportunities and mine has come now, hopefully I'll be able to take it and have a good game. I'm excited and nervous.

"I could be going up against James Davies, he is one of the best out there, so it's a great opportunity. There's no pressure, just go out there and play. Do what I do."

When Jackman was asked to describe what sort of a player Basham is like, he picked out Tipuric, a rapid flanker with skills to make centres jealous.

"I see him as a seven, a Tipuric type. He is a very good ball carrier but not power, it's speed and footwork. He is an attacking seven," said the former Ireland international.

Unsurprisingly the Ospreys, Wales and Lions flanker is one of Basham's idols but the teenager is also aiming to follow the lead of an out-and-out seven closer to home.

The prospect has played across the back row for Bedwas and Cross Keys but it's openside where he wants to thrive, with injured Cudd providing some breakdown tricks of the trade.

"As long I am starting and involved, I don't really mind. I do like coming off the back of the scrum with the ball at number eight but my favourite position is seven," said Basham, who only made his full debut for Bedwas last January.

"I just like the physicality and you are the dog of the team. I see myself as a Justin Tipuric type player in attack and I like to be dangerous and be involved.

"James Benjamin has helped me with tactics, because he can play 6, 7 and 8, and I watch my games back with Nic Cudd.

"He helps a lot and in terms of turnovers he is right up there, so it's great to have someone like that telling me how to do it."

The pressure is off the Dragons against the champions and it certainly is off Basham as an individual.

Whatever happens over the 80 minutes it will be a valuable learning experience for the teenager, who spent last summer touring with Wales Under-18s.

"When I came back for South Africa I was expecting to play a couple of games in the Premiership for Cross Keys and have another year in the 18s, maybe under-age in the 20s," he said.

"I never expected this to happen right here, right now. It's a bit overwhelming but good."