Former Wales coach Allan Lewis knew Cardiff Blues wing Alex Cuthbert would become an international star the moment he met him, but admits the speed of his rise has even taken him by surprise.
Lewis – who was Wales backs coach and a national selector – first clapped eyes on the 6ft 6in Cuthbert when he was director of rugby at Hartpury College three years ago.
These were Cuthbert’s first few tentative steps into rugby life, his journey having been fast tracked as he has starred in the RaboDirect PRO12 and this year’s Six Nations, scoring twice ahead of Wales’ attempts to wrap up a Grand Slam with a win against France.
Despite still being just 21 Cuthbert has not looked out of place in the red of Wales, taking even Lewis aback at the ease at which he has settled into life as part of Warren Gatland’s exciting young side.
“It’s incredible really,” Lewis told Wales Online. “It’s has been a real meteoric rise for him.
“If you had told me three or four years ago that this chap would be in a Grand Slam side now I wouldn’t have believed you.
“He always had the basic ingredients to be a good player. He was a big lad who was very fast and he had that sort of ability in rugby terms where he was a natural footballer.
“But a lot of players out there have potential. For him to achieve what he has in such a short space of time is remarkable.
“He was a talented all-rounder and whatever sport he would have taken up he would have done well in, but his rise over the last two or three years has been quite meteoric.
“Here is a boy who did not start playing rugby seriously until he was with us at Hartpury at 18 or 19.
“Warren Gatland deserves a pat on the back as well for taking a punt on him. Sometimes you’ve got to go with your gut feeling. Warren has taken a punt on him and it has come off.”