Six Nations 2019: Wales flanker Thomas Young inspired by father Dai

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Thomas Young: From dad Dai's Wales mascot to Six Nations start
Six Nations: Italy v Wales
Venue: Stadio Olimpico, Rome Date: Saturday, 9 February Kick-off: 16:45 GMT
Coverage: Live on S4C, BBC Radio 5 live, BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru & BBC Sport website and BBC Sport app, plus live text commentary.

When Wales flanker Thomas Young runs out at the Stadio Olimpico for his Six Nations debut against Rome on Saturday, father Dai will not be far from his mind.

Famous father and sons combinations are not uncommon for Wales in this great rugby tournament.

Names like the Moriarty's and Quinnell's have proved their credentials and now the Young clan have the chance to add to that list.

Young senior will know how his son will be feeling in Rome this weekend. The prop won 51 Wales caps between 1987 and 2001, captained his country and toured three times with the British and Irish Lions.

The family duo have a unique relationship because Dai is not only his Dad at home but also his boss at club side Wasps.

"He's had his Dad's head on this week and I think he was chuffed," said Thomas Young.

"He's coming over and I think my parents and everyone will be proud.

"It'll be a lovely occasion and something I'm looking forward to."

Dai Young took over at Wasps in 2011
Dai Young took over at Wasps in 2011 after a spell in charge of Cardiff Blues

Young linked up with his father at Wasps in 2014 after his career stalled at Cardiff Blues, where Dai had been a former captain and director of rugby.

The 26-year-old will be thinking about the chances he has been given by his family as he prepares to run out at the Stadio Olimpico.

"Everything he has done for me seems to working out," said Young.

"He gave me the opportunity when things weren't going well back home.

"I'm thankful for it and grateful to him and that's one thing that will be at the back of my mind on the weekend."

Outstanding performances

It is a working relationship that could have been difficult. Dai Young has even admitted in the past he was perhaps too harsh on Thomas because he was wary of accusations of nepotism.

Ultimately the relationship has worked for the pair of them and Young has earned his international call-up on merit through his outstanding club performances in the Gallagher Premiership.

"We are in a different sort of situation to other people would be but it works," said Young.

"We work together and then we come home and what happened in work stays there."

It has been frustrating for father and son with Thomas having to bide his time over the last two seasons after winning his first two caps against Tonga and Samoa in June 2017.

Wales coach Warren Gatland has impressive back-row resources at his disposal, even if he is currently without the injured Taulupe Faletau, Dan Lydiate, Aaron Shingler, Ellis Jenkins and James Davies.

Thomas Young started eight games for Cardiff Blues before joining Wasps in 2014
Thomas Young started eight games for Cardiff Blues before joining Wasps in 2014

Now Young has his chance to display his credentials in Rome as he lines up in the back-row alongside Aaron Wainwright and Josh Navidi.

"It's a massive opportunity, especially with the quality of back-rowers we have got," said Young.

"Hopefully, I can go out there and take the chance I've been given."

Opportunity is deserved - Gatland

Gatland says Young deserves his chance.

"For Thomas, we haven't spoken a lot about expectation for him, it's just about him going out there, making an impression and enjoying himself," said Gatland.

"There is no doubt his form for Wasps has been very good. When you pick a squad, there are always two or three players considered to be unlucky to miss out.

"His name has been mentioned in the past, but he gets an opportunity on the weekend."

Young's only previous Six Nations experience was as a nine-year-old mascot when his Dad won his 50th cap. On that day in 2001, Dai Young led his country in a 36-6 home defeat against an Ireland team coached by Gatland.

"It's a game Dad wants to forget, as he was captain and we got a bit of a hammering," recalled Young.

"Running out was good for us as a family, and it was a proud moment for us all.

"That is the only time I've been out on the Millennium [now Principality] Stadium pitch, so it is something I won't forget."

He will be hoping his Six Nations playing debut will also prove unforgettable. This time though in a winning Welsh side.

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