Prydie dream comes true
Teenager set to face All Blacks on just third Wales appearance
Last Updated: June 18, 2010 6:47pm
Youngster Tom Prydie can scarcely believe he will be running out to face the All Blacks on Saturday in just his third appearance for Wales.
"At the beginning (of the season) I was thinking a couple of games for the Ospreys would be nice. Now I'm getting my third cap against the All Blacks. I didn't even dream of it."
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The teenager became Wales' youngest ever international player at the tender age of 18 years and 25 days in the RBS Six Nations match against Italy.
And two weeks ago the winger, who was fast-tracked through the Ospreys age-grades after catching the eye of director of coaching Scott Johnson, scored his first Test try in the narrow 34-31 defeat to South Africa in Cardiff.
"At the beginning (of the season) I was thinking a couple of games for the Ospreys would be nice," he said.
"Now I'm getting my third cap against the All Blacks. I didn't even dream of it. 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."
Despite the fact he has been below Shane Williams, Tommy Bowe Nikki Walker and Kristian Phillips in the Ospreys pecking order, Warren Gatland has certainly seen something in Prydie.
And Wales' attack coach, former skipper Robert Howley, predicts a bright future ahead for the Porthcawl-born youngster.
"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," he 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."
Saturday's clash at Carisbrook in Dunedin will be the last time the famous ground hosts an international game and is likely to be a highly-charged affair.
Following defeats to South Africa in 2008 and France last year, New Zealand will do everything they can to avoid finishing with three losses in a row.
Wales on the other hand will be going all out to end their 57-year drought against the All Blacks.
Howley expects that Prydie will be targeted for the high kicks as the youngest, most inexperienced member of the team.
But he believes the youngster will be able to handle the pressure on the biggest occasion to date of his fledgling career.
"There's no doubt it's a huge night for him tomorrow night because he is going to be targeted. 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."
As for Prydie himself, he has shown few signs of nerves in the build-up, although he admits that they exist.
"Through the week you've just got to concentrate and work on your game," he said. "You do get nerves but it's just overcoming them really."