Wales v Italy, Six Nations, March 20
Prydie primed for international bow
March 17, 2010
Wales coach Warren Gatland has no qualms about throwing teenager Prydie into the mix against Italy © Getty Images
Teenager Tom Prydie is relishing the prospect of making Welsh rugby history against Italy on Saturday.
Prydie, at 18 years and 25 days, will become the 1074th Wales Test player and youngest of all-time when he takes to the field for his side's final Six Nations clash in Cardiff. His shock selection - after just two appearances for the Ospreys - also sees him eclipse England centre Mathew Tait as the youngest Six Nations participant. But Prydie appears to have his feet firmly on the ground as he prepares for a Test debut just six years after taking up rugby.
"I spoke to [Wales captain)] Ryan Jones," said Prydie. "He just said be yourself, don't try to force things and if it comes, it comes. I will do that and just try to play my own game. I will try to keep my head down until the end of the week and focus on the game, know my roles and get used to it.
"It is just a dream come true to be announced in the team. I couldn't really believe it, I was shaking. It has gone a bit quick this year. From my 17th to 18th birthday, I am flying. I signed a contract with the Ospreys, was selected in the Wales squad and now I am playing on the weekend.
"Since I was a kid, I always wanted to play for Wales. I've grown up watching players like Shane Williams, Stephen Jones and James Hook. Being with players of this calibre, professionals like these, you pick up lots of little things and tips on the field."
Prydie features in a Wales team showing five changes from the side beaten 27-12 by Ireland last Saturday. He replaces Leigh Halfpenny, while Mike Phillips takes over from scrum-half Richie Rees, prop Gethin Jenkins is in for Paul James, No.8 Ryan Jones is recalled at Gareth Delve's expense and Sam Warburton earns a run instead of 95 times-capped flanker Martyn Williams.
Prydie currently occupies centre-stage though, and his fellow Wales wing Shane Williams has given him a ringing endorsement. "He looks like a sprinter and he certainly runs like one," said Shane Williams. "Whether it is 20-metre sprints or 400-metre sprints, he is always one of the guys up at the front.
"The youngsters these days are so far advanced from where I was at his age. The academy system has got a lot to do with that, just athletes coming through constantly. Tom is only going to get better with experience. I have no doubt he will take Saturday in his stride and be as cool as a cucumber. I will probably be more nervous than him, to be honest. It will be nice to play alongside him and hopefully put him in for a couple of tries."
Wales coach Warren Gatland has also given the youngster a ringing endorsement, adding, "We heard some good things about him from his region and from the coaches at Under 18 level and he has lived up to that, as has Kristian as well. He is the fastest player in the squad, he can play at fullback as well as on the wing and he is not afraid to tackle so we'll see how he goes."