Cast your mind back to the 2017 autumn internationals.
One player threatened to break through as a nailed on Test starter after causing Australia, Georgia, New Zealand and South Africa all manner of problems from his touchline.
That player was Hallam Amos and, if you even casually followed Wales’ fortunes in the months following those November fixtures, you’d know that he isn’t a nailed on Test starter.
Far from it.
Every time Amos has threatened to break through, something has conspired against him just as he appeared on the brink.
Amos has been named on the bench for Saturday’s clash with Italy , hoping this time things will work out a little differently.
It would be just his 19th Test cap and his second Six Nations appearance if he gets on.
But just why has the talented 24-year-old struggled to be a constant in Warren Gatland’s side and why is he worth persisting with despite his injury woes?
His Wales career to date
Amos made his debut against Tonga back in 2013. It’s telling that in the six years following, Amos has only amassed 18 caps.
He would have to wait another two years for his second cap – which came in the build-up to the 2015 World Cup.
That tournament would foreshadow the rest of his Test career – with Amos impressing in the early stages of the competition, looking at ease in the choppy waters of Test rugby before suffering a shoulder injury after innocuously handing off Owen Farrell after the whistle had gone in Wales’ 28-25 win over England.
He followed it up with his only Six Nations appearance to date against Italy in 2016 and a summer tour of New Zealand which acted as a steep learning curve to how easily exploited you can be by the world’s finest attacks.
However, a similar theme prevailed that autumn that would have felt all too familiar.
Another shoulder injury was sustained in the 2016 autumn international opener against Australia after he acrobatically dived in to the corner. Again, it happened in the most innocuous of ways, but that mattered little.
Having provided the only positive spark off the bench for Wales on what was a dismal day in terms of the teams’ performance, his campaign was cruelly over.
Unfortunately, that has been the overriding narrative for Amos’s Wales career.
Injuries have cut short his Wales appearances – usually just when things are looking promising for the medical student.
A mixed 18 months
Which brings us to the last year and a half.
That shoulder injury kept him out for the best part of a year – with his return being delayed several times.
He eventually did return for the start of the 2016-17 season and, when another impressive cameo off the bench against the Wallabies wasn’t curtailed by injury, you sensed his luck was about to change.
When he went on to score the following week against Georgia, before putting in similar quality Test performances against New Zealand and South Africa, it finally felt like he had arrived.
No other Welsh player played more minutes that campaign than Amos. Finally, the Test player we thought he could be was here.
Yet, he would miss out on the start of the 2018 Six Nations through injury and then the form of Wales’ other wings meant he did not feature at all that spring in a red jersey.
Around that time, Amos also dealt with some troubling news away from the field after a close friend took his own life.
He spoke about the suicide of friend Edward Senior, who was also a medical student, this season – revealing the devastating impact it had .
“It was horrific news and it shattered many lives close to me.
“He was a very close friend of mine and I know his family very well. What they are going through is horrific.”
On the pitch, things were still far from straighforward.
Three mightily impressive starts in the summer tour against South Africa and Argentina again showed once more his qualities as a Test level player – be that on the wing or at full-back.
Yet, he missed the following autumn campaign after suffering a dislocated elbow while playing for the Dragons.
Why he is worth persisting with?
Such had been the sporadic nature of his Wales appearances, it led some fans and journalists to question whether Amos would even make the squad.
That was a little far-fetched.
When Amos is fit, he’s nailed on for a squad place.
He can play full-back or wing, he’s a quality finisher with a skillset made for Test level and a rugby brain to boot.
But a spot in Warren Gatland’s starting XV is a harder nut to crack at the moment.
You have Leigh Halfpenny, Liam Williams, George North and Josh Adams all more than worthy of being starters, while the likes of Steff Evans and Jonah Holmes are contenders too.
In fact, Holmes starts ahead of Amos in what could be a crucial audition for the pair.
You hope he gets a considerable cameo off the bench to show what he can do at this level once more.
It could well be that Amos doesn’t get a chance in Rome this weekend. That would be a mighty shame.
He is far too good a player to remain on the fringes indefinitely. The question of whether he can make the step up is hindered merely by fitness doubts rather than any concern for his ability.
Conversely, what if he does get on in Rome and impress – could that finally be the springboard for Amos? Perhaps.
What makes this time around different?
Honestly, nothing suggests it would be.
But Amos is a player of undoubted Test quality and he deserves to be persisted with because the rewards if he stays fit are well worth it.
It’s a big year for Amos on so many fronts.
His future on the domestic front has been speculated about for some time and will soon be resolved, while there’s a World Cup in Japan firmly on the horizon.
Maybe he won’t establish himself as a starter as we once thought he would, but, make no mistake, if Amos stays fit, he’ll have some part to play in Gatland’s farewell tour.
He’s too good not to.
Source link : https://www.walesonline.co.uk/sport/rugby/rugby-news/richly-talented-member-wales-six-15782372
Publish date : 2019-02-08 20:01:00