Mason Grady: Young hopes emerge in dark days of Welsh rugby – NewsEverything Wales

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Mason Grady: Young hopes emerge in dark days of Welsh rugby – NewsEverything Wales
Mason Grady: Young hopes emerge in dark days of Welsh rugby – NewsEverything Wales

Mason Grady competes for the ball on his debut against England
Mason Grady started at centre on his international debut against England before switching to wing
Venue: Stadio Olimpico, Rome Date: Saturday, 11 March Kick-off: 14:15 GMT
Coverage: Live on S4C, BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru, the BBC Sport website & app; live text commentary on BBC Sport website & app.

There has not been much hope for Wales during this Six Nations so far.

Three defeats sees Warren Gatland’s side propping up the table ahead of a potential Wooden Spoon decider in Italy next weekend.

Wales have dropped to 10th in the world rankings and lost 12 out of the last 15 matches.

The emergence of some young talent might be one ray of light. Add Cardiff centre Mason Grady to that list after the 20-year-old made his debut against England in the 20-10 defeat.

Grady joined fellow centre Joe Hawkins and Exeter duo Christ Tshiunza and Dafydd Jenkins in making Six Nations debuts just a few months after being involved in the Wales Under-20s set-up.

“There was a moment when Joe, Christ, Dafydd and I sat around (at u20 level) and said wouldn’t it be amazing to play in the next World Cup,” said Grady.

“To then play in the Six Nations before the World Cup with those boys is pretty mad. Getting a cap with them is amazing., I didn’t expect it to happen so soon.”

Grady was joined in a new-look centre pairing with Hawkins, also 20.

“We know how each other play from our partnership,” added Grady.

“I put my trust in Joe and let him do his thing and he lets me do mine. I enjoy playing with him.”

Not many players make their international debut at home against England in the Six Nations.

“It was pretty surreal,” added Grady.

“I was disappointed with the result, but proud to get my first cap.

“It was an unbelievable experience running out in front of 74,000 people, a dream come true.

“Wales v England is one of the biggest games, especially for a Welshman. To be able to experience that was just amazing and I’d love to experience it all again.”

Grady was watched by older brother and former Wales centre Cory Allen, who won six caps before injury curtailed his career at just 29.

After the game Grady’s mother, Julie, posted on social media two photographs taken almost a decade apart.

The first picture was in November 2013 on the occasion of a first cap for Allen, with son Mason and Wales head coach Warren Gatland.

The second snap was recreated as Grady stood proudly with a Wales cap perched on his head alongside Gatland and his mum.

“It feels like only yesterday that that picture of me and my Mum at the stadium watching my brother making his debut was taken,” added Grady.

“It’s pretty mad seeing those pictures now. That was 10 years ago.

“All the family were immensely proud being there to watch me win my first cap.

“I had about 15 family members there and to let them see me win my cap was amazing.”

The sporting family prowess is evident. Julie played basketball for Wales and Great Britain, while another brother Ashton played basketball for Wales too.

Grady himself was a Wales cap at under-16 level in the same sport before focusing on rugby.

He admits he used to idolise some of the players he is now training with on a daily basis.

“Coming into camp and seeing how intensely the boys train, and how much they do off the field in terms of analysis and stuff, has made me realise those are the things I need to do better to keep improving my game,” added Grady.

“It’s great to be learning from the likes of George North and Dan Biggar.

“I watched them all as a kid and I can remember playing the 2011 World Cup video game and playing with all those.

“I just passed it to Shane Williams and let him run around everyone. It’s pretty mad to be learning off them now.”

Grady namechecked North who he actually replaced in the starting side against England.

“To be able to learn off George is terrific, the things he does on the field are amazing,” added Grady.

“He’s a very good role model for me and he’s been very helpful, telling me all the little things that I need to do better.

“He’s taken me aside and helped me.”


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