Wales coach Warren Gatland believes Ospreys youngster Tom Prydie could be something ‘pretty special’ following his international debut last weekend.
Prydie made his Wales bow in the Six Nations win over Italy on Saturday, despite not having made a single Magners League appearance for the Ospreys.
The 18-year-old became his country’s youngest-ever international, breaking a 122-year-old record in the process.
The former Wales U-18 star, who hasn’t even appeared for the U-20 side yet, also broke Matthew Tait’s record as the youngest player ever to feature in the Six Nations.
And despite his lack of experience, Prydie didn’t look remotely out of place amongst the game’s elite.
“Tom was very good,” said Gatland after Wales ran out 33-10 winners at the Millennium Stadium.
“He didn’t have many opportunities but he was composed and didn’t make any errors and he should be very pleased.
“Obviously there’s work to do on his physique but by the time the World Cup comes, we could have someone pretty special.”
Gatland hopes the young wing will be given an opportunity to flourish at Magners League title chasers the Ospreys but he readily admits that he expects it to be hard for Prydie to force his way into the matchday squad let alone the starting XV.
With the likes of Lions tourists Shane Williams and Tommy Bowe and Scottish international Nikki Walker all vying for a wing berth, Gatland doesn’t envisage his new protégé to be a regular in the Ospreys side for some time yet.
But despite insisting that the Liberty Stadium outfit will be under no national pressure to play the youngster, Gatland does hope he will at least get some game time ahead of the summer tour to New Zealand.
"I want to see the kid to play at the highest possible level – that is the key going forward,” added Gatland.
"The Ospreys have so much depth and talent in their squad, so when is he going to get an opportunity to play some rugby regularly before the tour of New Zealand?
"I’m reluctant to have dialogue with the Ospreys about him and to put them under pressure as they have a lot of wingers at their disposal – a huge amount of players to call on.
"I’d just like to see him get an opportunity."