[icWales] MEFIN DAVIES would be forgiven for pinching himself when he wakes up on Saturday morning in Rome.
He's dreamed of playing in the RBS Six Nations championship since childhood.
And, while the Pontypridd hooker believes there is an expectation in Welsh rugby circles that he will fall from grace at some point, he intends to enjoy the experience for as long as it lasts.
Davies, who is poised to take over the Wales No 2 jersey in the wake of Robin McBryde's foot injury, says, "The transformation in my career since leaving Neath to join Pontypridd before the start of last season has been hard to control and manage.
"To rise from club to international rugby in that time has been a shock.
"The important thing is to maintain that progress and not fall. It's easy enough to fall and everyone in Welsh rugby is expecting a fall.
"So my biggest fear is to fall and I have to keep away from that, have a successful time and enjoy it as much as I can.
"I had a childhood dream that lasted through the days when I'd watch the games with my mates in Carmarthen or go to Cardiff to see the games.
"To be part of it as a national squad member is something special after the autumn series that were a great experience in their own right.
"The Six Nations means a huge amount to Wales and its players.
"Usually at this time I'd be looking in from the outside at the Wales situation and thinking they could do well.
"But I've learned from club rugby with Pontypridd this season that if you do the small things well, the big picture will look after itself.
"So I'm just focusing on Italy this week and will worry about what follows when that is over."
Davies credits a host of coaches at club and representative level for helping his progress.
Mike Ruddock is high on his list of thank yous, particularly for the work he did with Davies during last season's A team championship.
Dennis John and Lynn Howells, as well as Wales coach Steve Hansen and his assistant Scott Johnson, are also on Davies' Christmas card list.
He also cites Wales fitness coach Andrew Hore as having, "Given me a new lease of life."
But, as Davies looked back, he pinpoints one of the game's unsung heroes for setting him on the path to international honours.
"It's a while ago now, but I was playing for Carmarthen Quins and was asked by a guy by the name of Mark Perdue to play in a Dunvant trial.
"I was a bit reluctant because I was playing senior rugby in my home town. But I had a game for Dunvant under-21s and Mark put my name forward to the senior Dunvant coach at the time, Brian Thomas, and made the move after that."
Davies also feels his Sardis Road team-mates have helped lift him to international level.
He says, "We have a great bunch of players at Pontypridd and, if it wasn't for them, I wouldn't be where I am now."