Gatland lauds newcomer Robinson
January 19, 2012
Cardiff Blues winger Harry Robinson was one of the new faces included in Wales' Six Nations squad © Getty Images
Wales coach Warren Gatland has tipped Six Nations newcomer Harry Robinson for a bright future and compared him to legendary dual code international Jason Robinson.
The 18-year-old was a surprise selection in Wales' 35-man training squad for this year's Championship and continues a trend that has seen Gatland continually look to the future. The Cardiff Blues winger and Wales 7s international follows in the footsteps of the then 17-year-old Ospreys youngster Tom Prydie who was included in their squad for the 2010 Six Nations.
Gatland, who included six uncapped players in his latest selection, will be keen to fill the void left by speedster Shane Williams, who retired from international rugby last month, but says the three-quarter reminds him of another great of the British game.
"He reminds me of Jason Robinson in the way he darts around," said Gatland. "He has been very impressive in Sevens, which has been an avenue for a few of our players, and he has come on for the Blues and looked sharp. He plays with confidence, he is young and we need to be thinking in terms of the back three, which has been an area where we have not had a huge amount of strength over the last couple of seasons. We are looking not just to the immediate future, but at seeing how he will be over next two or three seasons."
Williams' decision to retire from the Test arena has left Wales short of experienced wing options. Robinson, 18, George North, 19, and Alex Cuthbert, 21, who won his first cap against the Wallabies, are the specialist wide men in the squad. That lack of cover in the back three has seen fullback Lee Byrne recalled after being unavailable to face Australia, giving Gatland the option of moving Leigh Halfpenny from the No.15 jersey to a place on the flank.
Byrne's form nose-dived alarmingly in the build-up to the World Cup, but Gatland says the former Osprey's improved performances for new club Clermont Auvergne merit a place in his party. "Lee has gone to France and played week in, week out for Clermont," said Gatland. "They are doing well, they are a quality side and their coach Vern Cotter would not pick Lee if he was not playing well. Lee gives us some security and stability, and with Shane retiring it gives us a bit of back-up."
Forwards - C Mitchell (Exeter Chiefs), Adam Jones (Ospreys), R Bevington (Ospreys), G Jenkins (Cardiff Blues), P James (Ospreys), R Gill (Saracens), Rhodri Jones (Scarlets), M Rees (Scarlets), H Bennett (Ospreys), K Owens (Scarlets), B Davies (Cardiff Blues), I Evans (Ospreys), L Reed (Scarlets), Ryan Jones (Ospreys), D Lydiate (Newport Gwent Dragons), S Warburton (Cardiff Blues, capt), J Tipuric (Ospreys), T Faletau (Newport Gwent Dragons), A Powell (Sale Sharks)
Backs - M Phillips (Bayonne), L Williams (Cardiff Blues), R Webb (Ospreys), R Priestland (Scarlets), J Hook (Perpignan), J Roberts (Cardiff Blues), J Davies (Scarlets), S Williams (Scarlets), G Henson (Cardiff Blues), A Beck (Ospreys), G North (Scarlets), L Halfpenny (Cardiff Blues), A Cuthbert (Cardiff Blues), H Robinson (Cardiff Blues), L Williams (Scarlets), L Byrne (Clermont Auvergne)
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