New Zealand v Wales, Carisbrook, June 19
Howley expects Prydie to cope
June 18, 2010
Tom Prydie has been backed to cope with the pressure against the All Blacks © Getty Images
Wales backs coach Rob Howley has full confidence in youngster Tom Prydie prior to Saturday's showdown with the All Blacks in Dunedin.
Prydie, who is 18 and Wales' youngest international and try-scorer after notching five points against South Africa last time out, will likely face an aerial bombardment from New Zealand's talismanic fly-half Dan Carter, but Howley is confident that the winger will cope.
"There's no doubt it's a huge night for him tomorrow night because he is going to be targeted," he said. "I think Dan Carter and Jimmy Cowan play an effective kicking game and our back three are going to be wary of that - particularly Dan Carter's left foot.
"It will be a big Test for Tom but we back him to the hilt. It will be a huge learning experience and that's what Test rugby is about. For kids coming onto the scene to have that and be in that environment and learn from the experience tomorrow night, hopefully he'll become a better player for that."
Prydie has played only a handful of games for the Ospreys and had set his sights on regional recognition at the start of the season. He was a surprise inclusion in the Wales squad for the Six Nations and made his bow against Italy in the final game of the Championship.
"At the beginning [of the season] I was thinking a couple of games for the Ospreys would be nice and now I'm getting my third cap against the All Blacks. I didn't even dream of it," he said. "I can't wait to play and I'm really looking forward to it. This is the biggest Test any player can have playing against the All Blacks."
Howley does not place much stock in Prydie's inexperience, praising his intelligence. He is unlikely to become a regular feature for the Ospreys next season, with British & Irish Lions Tommy Bowe and Shane Williams their starting wings, but will hope for further action as his game develops.
"It's not often he makes mistakes and I think that's what Test match rugby is about, making no errors in your game in that pressure environment," Howley said. "He is a very intelligent football player, which is surprising really because of the lack of games he has played at regional level. He just seems to fit into international rugby."