The next hot prospect to be inducted into the RaboDirect Rising Stars, which introduces you to the best young talent in the RaboDirect PRO12, is Newport Gwent Dragons fly-half Lewis Robling.
Jason Tovey’s departure to the Cardiff Blues might accelerate Robling’s promotion into the Dragons’ first team, but having scored the winning try in the RaboDirect PRO12 win over the Ospreys in January he looks ready to fulfil the potential which saw him star for the Welsh Under-20s in Argentina two years ago.
Set to battle with fellow youngster Steffan Jones for the starting role next season in Darren Edwards’ side, Robling certainly has the pedigree with former Wales international and charity hero Richard Parks for a second cousin.
And while he admits he hasn’t seen a great deal of his cousin since his exploits scaling the world’s highest peaks, that hasn’t stopped him taking inspiration from his relative.
It’s unbelievable what Richard has done to go through something like that. I don’t really have a motto when I go on to the pitch but having someone like Richard to look up to certainly inspires me. Of course I haven’t seen him much because he’s been off doing the challenges but it’s an incredible achievement.
Percy Montgomery was my first autograph and he’s become one of my heroes in the game. When I was just an under-11 at the Dragons he came to be presented and I got his autograph then. Back then I was more interested in playing than watching but when you see what he has done since winning the World Cup it’s pretty special.
I was tempted by football before eventually going for rugby. I played quite a lot of football from eight until about 14 but in the end there was no choice when it came to which sport I would play. When you come from Wales it’s all about the rugby, and given where I am, I have no regrets.
Toby Faletau is only a year older than me, though I’ll have to go some to match what he’s done by 21. Obviously I know him pretty well from the age groups, and you can see that he’s an incredible player. What he’s done this year has been fantastic, and in training he’s just as tough a tackler as he is in the game.
It’s just about getting as many games as possible for me at the moment. At my age the important thing is to play as much as you can, and competitions like the World Cup and the Six Nations are great in that respect. I need to put in the hard work to get those chances, but I’m still just happy to be a pro rugby player. I know I’m pretty lucky.
My Xbox 360 is probably the most expensive thing I have ever bought but I think I’m going to have to swap it for a PS3. I like the Xbox and play a lot of Call of Duty and FIFA on there. The problem is all the rest of the lads have PS3s and I’m getting a little left behind by them. Not surprisingly I’m not as good when I switch over.
As hard as it is to believe Luke Charteris is one of the best golfers at the Dragons. A few of us play a round of golf at Alice Springs golf club when we get the chance, and Luke is definitely one of the best, despite his height. When I play it’s more a case of hit and hope but there are few guys who are pretty useful. Jason Tovey and Adam Hughes are definitely right up there as well.
I wish I could have played rugby in the 1970s when there was a bit more space. It would have been great to play when defences weren’t quite so good. Now you don’t get so much time on the ball so it’s a little tougher as a playmaker, but I guess it just shows the defence coaches are doing a good job.
Funnily enough my favourite ever rugby jersey didn’t bring Wales much success. I really liked the Welsh shirt for the 2007 World Cup it was really simple and just plain red. Unfortunately the tournament didn’t quite work out for us but the shirt was good. Other than that you have to like the All Black shirt, it’s just iconic.
My worst rugby nightmare actually happened a few weeks ago against the Scarlets. I missed four in a row and eventually we lost the game so it was pretty disappointing. You just have to put those things behind you though. It’s part of being a kicker and some days don’t go for you. I’ve put the hard work in at training and hopefully it won’t happen to me again.