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Wales and Ospreys teenager Tom Prydie's call-up shock

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Prydie 'amazed' by Wales call-up

By Gareth Roberts

No wonder 17-year-old Wales squad member Tom Prydie describes his rugby life as 'surreal'.

He has yet to speak to, let alone meet, the man who has picked him for the country's Six Nations squad.

And even Prydie's parents thought he was joking when he told them Wales boss Warren Gatland had included him in the 35-man squad.

"My parents thought I was joking when I told them," Prydie told BBC Sport Wales in his first interview.

"My dad didn't believe it, but they've been really supportive to me and are shocked as well, I guess."

And Prydie himself took some convincing over the validity of the call-up, which he learned of via a text message 20 minutes before Gatland made his selections public on Tuesday.

The Porthcawl-bred full-back or wing continued: "It was a total shock. I just couldn't believe it.

"I didn't think of being selected at all, to be honest.

"It wasn't on my mind and when I had the text, I couldn't believe it. I thought someone was joking around... I thought one of the boys was tucking me up or something."

There had been media speculation ahead of the Monday announcement Prydie was in line for a call-up.

But he dismissed that at the time, too.

"One of my mates showed me briefly. I thought it was just a story they'd made up," he said.

Now the player who had targeted occasional Ospreys appearances and gaining experience in the Welsh Premiership with Swansea this season finds himself involved in something rather different.

Bearing in mind five years ago, when Wales won their first Grand Slam in 27 years, Prydie was merely 13.

And the 30-somethings in the Wales squad were beginning their senior club careers when the youngster was born.

The squad's father figure, Martyn Williams, 34, turned 21 in the year Prydie was born and his top-flight career is more than twice as long as the newcomer has been playing rugby.

Prydie played football until the age of 12 but five years later is contemplating the prospect of walking into a dressing room in which Martyn Williams is almost part of the furniture.

I was going to go out with the boys, but I think it will be a quiet one, my 18th birthday

Tom Prydie

Not that Prydie is unused to rubbing shoulder with players, who were not so long ago his sporting idols.

"It's amazing, walking around the changing room seeing players who you have aspired to be like, you watch week-in, week-out and you want to be like them," he said.

"Once you're there, it's surreal, but you get used to it after a while, I guess."

And who are the players he admires most?

"Lee Byrne obviously because he's full-back and I've always wanted to play full-back. Players like Shane Williams are good to watch - people like that, James Hook as well," comes the reply.

Of course, he has yet to share a dressing room with the likes of flanker Williams and prop Gethin Jenkins, British and Irish Lions who command respect around the rugby world.

That will happen on Monday, when the squad gather in their Vale of Glamorgan base to begin preparations for this season's northern hemisphere rugby showpiece.

606: DEBATE

"It's mad," admits Prydie. "It still hasn't sunk in really, yet. I'm sure when I get there it will start to sink in then."

Only one thing could possibly top the strides Prydie has already made and that is a call-up to the match squad and a debut appearance.

Not that Prydie expects any such turn of events.

"If I do get that it's a bonus," said Prydie. "But I'm not really expecting much - just hopefully train with them and get experience as well."

As befits a young sportsman aiming for the top, Prydie is already aware some sacrifices must be made.

His will be to rein in the manner of his 18th birthday celebrations on 23 February.

"I was going to go out with the boys, but I think it will be a quiet one, my 18th birthday," he said.

Still, as Prydie knows, his sporting life has its compensations, even if they are surreal.



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