Wales v Argentina
Gatland challenges debutant Allen to impress
ESPN Staff
November 15, 2013
Cory Allen was in prolific form for the Sevens side last year © Getty Images

Warren Gatland has challenged Cory Allen to impress ahead of his Wales debut on Saturday.

Allen has played just 10 games for the Blues but has been named at outside centre for Saturday's Test against Argentina. With both Jonathan Davies and Jamie Roberts out injured, Gatland could have turned to the more experienced Ashley Beck to partner Scott Williams but he has handed Allen his debut.

"We are giving Cory a chance," Gatland said. "He is big, he's rangy and he goes in with an opportunity to impress. Sometimes you have to be physical, carry the ball and run hard, other times you are looking for players to create space and get passes away and put people into holes. That is what Cory's challenge is for the weekend.

"With Jonathan being injured, we are looking for some cover in the centres. It is a chance for a young guy to develop at centre and get some strength in depth there."

Allen has traditionally lined up at fullback but has been used in the centres by the Blues this term. Gatland has played down comparisons between him and Roberts and revealed he consulted the Wales Sevens coach over Allen.

"I know how good he was in the Hong Kong Sevens and Paul John tells me how big a loss he is to that squad," Gatland added. "That's a real positive with him. We are kind of playing him out of position, but we are giving him a chance.

"At the moment he's about 15kg lighter than Jamie and a different type of player. With the way the modern game is it's about having a particular range of skills in midfield."

And Allen is looking forward to running out at the Millennium Stadium and admits he was shocked to get the call-up.

"It's every rugby player's dream to play for their country," Allen told Wales Online. "If you'd asked me at the start of the season whether I would be in the autumn squad I would have probably laughed. I thought they were taking the mickey when they said I was in it.

"When they read out the team I had butterflies in my stomach. I hoped I might be on the bench against Tonga but, with 'Foxy' (Davies) getting injured, I thought there might be a chance in this game. Now I've got it, I've just got to go out and make the most of it."

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