By Alan Dymock
HAVING ONLY just recovered from the harsh lessons of the last weekend, after being overwhelmed by a rampant Exeter Chiefs side in round one of the Heineken Cup, Alex Cuthbert took some time out to talk up Cardiff Blues’ chances this weekend.
Talking at the official launch of Wales’ new kit, the winger explained that he was actually looking forward to testing himself against and attacking “the best in the world” at the Arms Park on Saturday.
“I’m almost back to normal after two days of recovering,” Cuthbert told Rugby World, “but it’s frustrating, the way we played in that first half last week.
“Obviously pitches are dry at the moment and I think a lot of clubs in the Heineken in particular are looking to attack more. Teams used to pride themselves on defence and with Wales we feel our defence has helped us to be Six Nations champions, but lots of teams are now looking to be attacking threats and some are pushing for maybe two tries in quick succession after a score, rather than one. Look at Cardiff Blues on Sunday – we were trying to score from everywhere.”
Some would argue that it was a case of too little, too late in Exeter but such is Cuthbert’s confidence he feels that he can rise to the next challenge. Namely that of a superstar Toulon team who tore through Glasgow Warriors minutes after Blues and Chiefs stopped running.
“I’m relishing playing the best team in the world,” Cuthbert says of Toulon with a smile. “We want to show something positive. I know we have the quality so it is strange to see us lose like that; we have 14 or 15 internationals and five British and Irish Lions but we are not getting results.
“Watching the game against Glasgow, they [Toulon] had won it in the first 30 minutes and it is about us matching them physically for that half hour on Saturday and giving ourselves a chance. For me I want to be playing the likes of [Bryan] Habana, who may be the best player in the world in my position, and I want people to see me against that and say ‘fair play.’”
Cuthbert feels conflicted with his own form being impressive, which is something he puts down to his belief in himself and his drive to consistently perform in every game regardless of the opposition, but he wants to play well in a winning side. What he hasn’t done, he insists, is have a quiet word with “the best full-back and best seven in the world” to try and convince them to stay in the Welsh capital, despite the Blues’ current malaise…
He does also hint at a strong belief within the Welsh national team, where players can come together and perform, regardless of the form of the regions.
He explains: “I think a lot comes down to understanding. In particular the likes of Warren [Gatland] and Robin [McBryde] make sure everyone is always on the same page. We have the confidence from Grand Slams and World Cup semi finals. Going forward, you always want to keep your form for the autumn and we are so close to the squad being picked. If I keep scoring and I am picked I will take confidence into that.”
With the Wales squad for the autumn selected on Tuesday, it is hard to see the free-scoring and, most importantly, happy Cuthbert miss out.