FORWARDS coach Ceri Jones believes Cory Hill has reaped the rewards of his responsibility as a Dragons leader when wearing the red of Wales, and now hopes to profit from the lock’s summer exploits.

The 26-year-old was co-captain for the tour to face South Africa and Argentina along with Cardiff Blues flanker Ellis Jenkins.

The duo led the way as Wales beat the Springboks in Washington and then doubled the Pumas for a first series win on Argentine soil since 1999.

Hill was arguably the player of the summer, starting all three Tests and taking his tally of caps to 18.

He played in all 12 of Wales’ internationals in 2017/18 and is now a serious rival to Jake Ball as Alun Wyn Jones’ first-choice partner in the boilerhouse.

“He has been excellent. When you look back to when Cory got his first exposure with Wales, everyone was thinking that it was a bit of a shot in the dark and that there were established second rows,” said twice-capped former prop Jones.

“The way that he has gone in and taken control, and grown as a bloke and a rugby player, has been great.

“I think that the leadership role within the Dragons has helped him and he has gone on to get better and better. He has taken more and more responsibility and seems to be thriving on that.”

Hill was joined in the Wales pack by Dragons teammates Elliot Dee and Aaron Wainwright as well as Newport-bound Ross Moriarty.

With new recruits Ryan Bevington, Richard Hibbard and Aaron Jarvis also boasting caps, Jones believes his forwards can flourish next season.

“We are very fortunate within the pack that we have a load of players with international experience. That’s something that we’ve never really been able to say at the Dragons,” he said.

“Now we have got Elliot Dee, Cory Hill, Aaron Wainwright, Ollie Griffiths, Brandon Nansen and Ross Moriarty, a group of young players with international experience.

“International experience gives you two things, first a huge amount of confidence and secondly it takes you up a level with regard to everything that’s done on and off the field.

“It gives you a bit more hunger to drive standards up with everything that you do at training to make us better as a group. It’s huge for them to be coming back and pushing standards in training.”

Nansen made his Samoa debut against Romania last autumn and won his second cap as a replacement against Tonga in the Pacific Nations Cup a fortnight ago.

The 24-year-old lock will now help his country secure a spot at next year’s World Cup against hosts Japan, Ireland, Scotland and Russia. The Samoans won the first leg of a two-leg play-off with Germany 66-15.

Nansen, who will battle with Hill, Joe Davies, Rynard Landman and Matthew Screech for starting spots in the second row, faces a delayed start to life at Rodney Parade after signing from Stade Francais.

“He will be in slightly later but having spoken to him, Brandon is massively keen to get over here and get started,” said Jones.

“The sooner that is the better because he is a great bloke and a typical Samoan in that he is very humble, he wants to come here to work hard and he is a tough cookie.”