Despite the recent retirement of Wales’ all-time leading try-scorer, former IRB International Player of the Year and one of the greatest players in the history of Welsh rugby, Warren Gatland’s Wales have coped remarkably well on the wings without Japan bound Shane Williams.
The last 18 months have seen Scarlets winger George North and Blues winger Alex Cuthbert burst on to the international stage to devastating effect. At only 20 years of age, the former has already amassed 22 caps for Wales, scoring 10 tries in the process. The latter has earned seven international caps and has touched down on four occasions, three of which came in Wales’ Grand Slam win earlier this year.
Wales can also call on the experience of Biarritz winger Aled Brew, with the former Dragons back scoring a try in the 30-21 win over the Barbarians earlier this month. However it is another of Wales’ try-scorers in that triumph over the Baa-Baas that could potentially add a whole new dimension to the Welsh back-line. 19 year old Blues winger Harry Robinson sprinted over half the length of the field to score the first try of the game at the Millennium Stadium as Wales went on to secure victory over the Barbarians in Martyn Williams’ final match for the national side.
‘Nugget’ will go down as a great in Welsh rugby after earning his 100th cap against the Baa-Baas but it was Robinson that stole the show on his Wales debut as he had the fans on the edge of their seats when he ran 50m to score his first try for the nation. Before his call-up to the Wales squad, Robinson played in 13 games for Cardiff in the 2011/12 season and scored seven tries as he announced his arrival on the club scene to great effect. Standing at 5ft and 9in, comparisons have inevitably been made between Robinson and the retired Shane Williams and with the pace that Robinson demonstrated to score the try on his international debut further comparisons between the two are likely to be made.
Weighing in at roughly 13st, Robinson is significantly lighter than the giants that are North and Cuthbert, but as Williams proved on so many occasions for Wales and the Ospreys throughout his career, size is not everything. North and Cuthbert have both demonstrated that sheer power and brutality can repeatedly get you over the gain-line but they are also experts in straight-line speed which is why, even though both are at such a young age, they are the first choice wingers for their national side and shifting them out of the starting XV would quite literally be a difficult ask for Robinson.
But as the Cardiff youngster showed on his debut, he also has fantastic straight-line speed and his change of pace is incredibly similar to his predecessor on the wing. The fact that he was included in Rob Howley’s squad for Wales’ Tour of Australia after only one international cap shows how he is regarded by the Welsh Rugby Union and they can definitely see him emerging as a great talent in the future for Wales.