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Ospreys star addresses his 14-month Wales wilderness and explains why he won't be ringing Wayne Pivac about it

Nicky Smith has no plans to follow the lead of Cardiff’s Seb Davies and give Wayne Pivac a ring to ask him what he has done to be cast aside by Wales.

Perhaps on the grounds that it's good to talk, Davies made a call to Wales' head coach after being overlooked for the tour to South Africa in the summer. But the 41-cap Smith won't be going there.

“It’s difficult, really, because we did have a chat at the beginning,” said the Ospreys prop, who hasn’t featured in a national squad for 14 months.

READ MORE: Wales star rings Wayne Pivac to ask why he didn't pick him

“Look, selection is all about opinions. I know what I can offer and I know I have to offer that consistently. What will be will be then.

“I’m 28 now. All I can do is my best. Of course it would be great if I could get back into the set-up and put my hand up for selection, but I can’t lose sleep about it either. I just have to concentrate on the Ospreys, keep performing and help the team to keep winning. Hopefully, the rest will look after itself.”

Smith is still determined to add to his 41 caps, but experience has taught him that selection is out of his hands. Being omitted from three successive Wales squads tends to shape a man’s thinking along those lines.

But nor does he want to burn bridges. “I don’t want to pull anything down. I’d love to be back in the Wales set-up. I’m not going to play that down," he said.

"But I’m not going to define my performance and weeks on selection [for Wales]. I will play to the best of my ability and offer that and my points of difference week-in, week-out. After that, it’s out of my control. All I can do is keep performing and keep improving and trying to put my hand up.”

It’s an admirable attitude from a player who had a fine season with the Ospreys last term, not only holding his own as a scrummager but also shining in the loose, with his ability to achieve turnovers to the fore.

He started this term well, too, with a strong display against the Scarlets last Saturday when he, Scott Baldwin and Tomas Francis exerted pressure on the home scrum throughout the first half, in particular.

But Smith still wasn’t totally satisfied with his game.

“It was a decent start for me, but there were mistakes in my game, which I now need to work on,” he said.

What errors did he identify? Well, for a start, he wasn’t pleased to see centre Johnny Williams fly past en route to a second-half try.

“I don’t know if it’s a cultural thing with the Welsh, but we always seem to look at negatives first,” laughed Smith. “I’m no different. The missed tackle that cost a try frustrated me. That was a mistake and the first thing I looked at afterwards.

“Then I tried to look at the positives. It’s not about trying to re-invent the wheel. It’s about asking how I can be more consistent? How can I get more touches of the ball? How can I make more tackles? I’ll always try to look at how to better myself. It’s the same for anybody.

“You’ll never have the perfect game. You’ll always look at it and say ‘how can I improve?’ I’m no different.”

Smith saluted the efforts of his Ospreys team-mate and fellow loosehead prop Gareth Thomas for Wales in South Africa this summer. You can read more about Thomas here.

“I thought he was fantastic. Credit to Gar — he’s had a really good year. He's been consistent with the Ospreys and I thought he was brilliant in the three Tests in South Africa. He had a stormer.”

Thomas will be absent because of injury on Saturday evening when the Ospreys face the Lions in Swansea in round two of the United Rugby Championship. Last term, the south-west Wales region lost all four games against South African opposition.

“All four South African sides offer something different, but all of them still have the core values of the SA national team — being physical and trying to achieve set-piece dominance,” said Smith.

“We have to front up as props. That’s exciting for me. We didn’t get it right against them last year and we know what the Lions are going to come with this weekend. It’s up to us to see if we can front up, put in a performance and get a win.”

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