Four months and a whirlwind international courtship later; the flyhalf just went toe-to-toe with the All Blacks on the biggest stage the sport has to offer – putting in a fine performance against the World Champions in Oita.
“It’s my first time (facing New Zealand),” he told the post-match press conference. “It was a special experience to play against the All Blacks and to say I’ve done that is very special.”
Was he intimidated? Not a bit.
“You can’t get intimidated. You respect them as players. They’re world champions. They’ve got some of the world’s best players but if we get intimidated by them, we shouldn’t be out there playing.”
Nelson was one of three uncapped players in Les Rouges’ preliminary World Cup squad, but the Dungannon born playmaker has already forced his way into the 10 jersey, having now started in both of the Canadians’ pool games.
The moment of the match for Nelson? Undoubtedly his mazy 30 metre run to the tryline, which ultimately saw him hauled down just metres short by some guy called Beauden Barrett.
“I got a great offload from Lucas (Rumball), saw Beauden (Barrett) in front of me and just had to back myself but he’s an incredible player. He has incredible pace and he was able to track me down, but it was nice to make the break.”
“The speed the All Blacks play at is incredible. We probably aren’t used to that. We probably haven’t played at that pace or with that high intensity in a test match and it can only stand us in good stead going forward. With that under our belts now we know we have two huge games ahead.”
“There were aspects of the game where we put them under pressure. Unfortunately, we didn’t come up with points. There were aspects of our defence where there were good periods. We competed and we put them under pressure.
“We were in their half for quite a bit in that first half and just didn’t really capitalise. In a game like this, you have to take some sort of positives out of it. We’re playing the best team in the world. They’re world champions and you’re only going to learn from that.”
He might be 26, but it feels like it’s all just starting for Peter Nelson.
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