HE may now have 10 caps to his name and four successive Test campaigns but Dragons captain Cory Hill has never been one for getting carried away.

The lock has been lauded as one of Wales’ most improved players by both head coach Warren Gatland and forwards boss Robin McBryde amd he featured in all four autumn internationals, off the bench against Australia and New Zealand and from the off against Georgia and South Africa.

The Springboks clash was his first start against one of the southern hemisphere big three and, injury permitting, he would appear to be a cert for a place in the Six Nations squad.

But Hill gives that idea short shrift and is staying grounded; his approach remains the same as when he got his first call-up while in Russia following the Dragons’ loss to Enisei-STM in October, 2016 – head down, graft hard.

“You have got to take every campaign as though it’s your first, keep on working hard, keep doing your job and then chances will come,” said the 25-year-old, who partnered skipper Alun Wyn Jones in the boilerhouse against the Boks.

“Unfortunately Jake Ball went off early against New Zealand and that gave me a chance. It was a one door closes and another opens sort of thing and it was nice to be in the starting line-up against one of the top southern hemisphere teams.

“It was nice to put a shift in for the full 80 minutes and come away with a win.”

Hill was third in the pecking order behind Jones and Ball at the start of the year but an injury to the latter doesn’t mean he is taking anything for granted for the Six Nations.

“You come in, do your own job, work hard and never know what can happen. Keep your feet firmly on the ground and that will go a long way,” said Hill, who had Adam Beard and Seb Davies as rivals this autumn after the experienced Bradley Davies and Luke Charteris were left out of the squad.

“I will just keep doing what I can on the training paddock and then on the pitch on a Saturday.”

Hill was joined in the 23 against the Springboks by Dragons teammates Hallam Amos and Elliot Dee while prop Leon Brown would have featured but for a concussion.

The Rodney Parade skipper is glad to have had the company and hopes the contingent will grow in coming years.

He said: “I was a bit lonely last year when Hallam had an injury in the first game last autumn! I was in the deep end on my own!

“It’s good for the region that we have a few more boys in the mix. The likes of Leon and Elliot getting capped in this campaign is driving the region forward. It’s massive for us to get more and more boys involved and getting that experience.

“Elliot is a pretty mental bloke! He’s one of my close friends and you have to keep his feet on the ground. He has worked so hard and I am chuffed for him because he had a tough time last season through injury.

“It’s great to see him coming through and reaping the rewards of a good run of performances for the Dragons at international level.

“It was nice to see him get his second cap against South Africa and get off that number one – nobody likes to be stuck there!”

And Hill was pleased to sign off for 2017 on a winning note against a formidable South Africa pack.

“We had a few tough games throughout the autumn series and felt like we played some decent stuff, especially against Australia and New Zealand,” he said.

“We set ourselves a challenge against South Africa and losing wasn’t good enough, so we were grateful to come away with the win.

“We knew that it would be a big task up front and they have certainly got a dominant set piece with a big driving maul and scrum.

“We knew that we had to front up physically so we are pretty pleased with the way that the game went.”