Corey Domachowski believes that Wales can reap the rewards from “15 weeks of hell” in their Rugby World Cup campaign.

The Cardiff prop is a Test rugby newcomer, making his debut against warm-up opponents England last month.

His impact was sufficient for Wales head coach Warren Gatland to select him not only in the final World Cup squad, but also hand him a place among the matchday 23 to face opening World Cup opponents Fiji on Sunday.

Wales have moved south from their Versailles training base to the first match venue of Bordeaux.

They were greeted by temperatures of 35 degrees as the heat in France shows no sign of relenting, and even though Sunday’s encounter does not start until 9pm local time, it is set to be only eight degrees cooler.

Wales, though, are fully prepared, with the players being put through their paces at punishing pre-World Cup camps in Switzerland and Turkey during a training phase that began in late May.

“We’ve trained hard for this,” Domachowski said.

“We had 15 weeks of hell, to be honest. It has been absolutely savage.

“And I genuinely think if we put what we’ve done on the training field on to the playing field, then we are going to be a tough team to beat.

“That’s something ‘Gats’ and the other coaches have drilled into us. We are not going to worry about any opposition. We know we have got quality in the squad.

“There is a lot of competition in that squad, and whoever goes on the field will give everything they’ve got for that jersey.”

Domachowski has already made a World Cup impression, leading the Wales players in a rendition of the Welsh hymn Calon Lan during the squad’s World Cup welcome ceremony in Versailles.

“As you can tell, I am a bit of a character, so ‘Nugget’ (team manager Martyn Williams) came up to me and asked me if I would lead it,” Domachowski added.

“So I said yes, and the boys were winding me up saying I could go on my own at first, but to be fair to ‘Gats’ he said we would all do it together.

“So I had to just lead it up, we had a couple of lessons and it went well.”

Corey Domachowski readily admits that any suggestion of playing prop as a schoolboy would fill him with dread.

A former centre and goalkicker at his local rugby club, a future in the front-row could not have been further from his mind.

But Domachowski is now preparing for his first World Cup as one of three loosehead props selected by Wales head coach Warren Gatland.

“I was playing for Rhondda Schools as a number six or eight, but Chris Jones (coach) was on at me for years to play prop,” he said.

“I would go home home to my mother and cry ‘I’m not going to play prop’.

“At my local club, Gilfach Goch, I always played number eight or centre and I also used to kick goals.

“I converted to prop in my first year of youth rugby at Gilfach. We didn’t have a loosehead, and we had some good players in the back row.

“I put a bit of weight on at the time, and I just wanted to play with the boys. It took off from there, really.

“It was probably the best decision of my life. I was a bit gutted I couldn’t kick at goal any more, but I am not an outside-half, centre or back-rower.

“But if we ever have a penalty goalkicking shoot-out, ‘Gats’ knows the score!”

Domachowski moved to Cardiff, making his debut against Glasgow in 2016, and a dominant display against European Challenge Cup opponents Sale Sharks last season thrust him into Gatland’s thoughts.

Barely a month later he was named in an extended World Cup training squad, and his Test debut followed when Wales took on opening warm-up opponents England at the Principality Stadium.

“I take myself back to the middle of last season and if someone had said I would be in this position now, I would have laughed in their face to be honest,” he added.

“I am not here to make up the numbers, and that is the same as everyone else. There is a lot of competition.

“We all know why we are here. We want the number one jersey.

“I have probably taken a lot from the first two caps (against England and South Africa), more than anything in the rest of my career.

“I was a bit frustrated from the England game where I felt we weren’t able to get the scrums we wanted. They probably played a bit smart, noticed we (Domachowski and his fellow Cardiff prop Keiron Assiratti) were both debutants, and used it to their advantage.

“Then we came up against the best pack in the world in South Africa, and I am not hiding away from the fact we came second-best. It was a big test, and we have just got to take learnings from it.”

The day of Wales’ final 33-strong World Cup squad announcement began with Domachowski attending his 88-year-old great-grandmother’s funeral.

Then came the jubilation of gaining selection, but he also found time to speak with his friend and team-mate Assiratti, who failed to make the cut.

“I said to him from where he was at the start of the year – Cardiff asked him to cover hooker at one point – and now he is a Wales international,” Domachowski said.

“Sometimes, you have probably got to take a step back and realise how far you have come.

“He is a great player. You don’t get gifted international honours if you are not good enough.

“I am sure he will bounce back from it, take it as motivation, hopefully use it to his advantage and push on for the Six Nations.”

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