TODAY he becomes a Wales international made in Llanelli but wing Johnny McNicholl could have been a Dragon.

The 29-year-old will make his Test debut when Wayne Pivac's men kick off the Six Nations against Italy in Cardiff this afternoon.

It's reward for three and a half impressive seasons in the Scarlets' back three after heading over from the Crusaders in 2016, that after opting for the west rather than east.

McNicholl held talks with the Rodney Parade region, who that season were headed up by Lyn Jones and assistant Kingsley Jones, before plumping for the offer on the table from compatriot Pivac.

After being such an influential figure in Llanelli – and a key component of the 2017 title-winning team – it came as no surprise that the speedster was given a first outing in the uncapped November game against the Barbarians.

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A try in Cardiff followed and this afternoon a cap will be awarded and his full name will be etched onto the wall of internationals outside the Wales changing room.

"I had the long-term goal when I come over here to play for Wales," said McNicholl. "I didn't announce it publicly, I kept my goals to myself until the time came.

"But, yeah, I've been thinking about this moment for a long time. I was playing with loads of the boys, like Liam Williams and Leigh Halfpenny, so I knew what work ethic it took to get to this place.

"Those boys are on the field for hours after training, working on the little things, so I did follow them in that respect.

"But I just focused on myself and growing as a player and I had that goal and every week I just wanted to make myself better so that when the time came to qualifying that I was ready to be here. "

McNicholl has played at Principality Stadium against the Baa Baas and for the Scarlets at Judgement Day yet it was a trip as a punter that fuelled his desire to be out on the middle for a Test.

"The first game I went to was versus Japan, and it was pretty dramatic. It was a draw right up until Sam Davies drop goal," he said, reflecting on the 33-30 win in 2016.

"I fell in love with the stadium at that moment. I was in the top of the stand and I still had this beautiful view of what was going on down there.

"Seeing Sam knock over that drop goal to win the game was great and after experiencing that as a fan, I can't wait to get out there."

McNicholl gets the nod alongside Halfpenny and Josh Adams in the back three in the absence of Liam Williams, who is targeting next weekend's trip to Ireland.

He was selected ahead of another new boy in Louis Rees-Zammit, a player at the other end of the experience scale.

The Gloucester speedster turns 19 this weekend while McNicholl is 29 but the Scarlet is confident that he will be in the mix for the 2023 World Cup in France.

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"Age is just a number, it's about how you feel," he said. "You know when someone's old when you watch them train or play. You see the brittleness of them.

"I'm still like a spring chicken out there, flying around. When that day comes when I feel too tired to get out of bed and train I'll know that I won't be making myself available."

Supporters expect McNicholl to be busy this afternoon as Wales start life under Pivac, a boss who brought dashing rugby to the Scarlets.

"I don't want to give secrets away but as you can see from the team that's been picked we are going to be playing some expansive rugby and we are want going to want to score a lot of tries. We want to win this trophy back," said the debutant.

"There's a lot of class in the room, so I'd say the boys very capable of playing this style of rugby in the first week when we are all playing together.

"I'm sure there'll be some mistakes and there will be some errors, but we'll all have the same goal and that's to win the game and score a load of tries."