New recruit Sheedy on why Wales now owe Gavin Henson a debt of gratitude
Wales new boy Callum Sheedy has revealed Gavin Henson to be among his mentors as he prepares for life in the international arena. The Cardiff-born Bristol fly-half qualified for Ireland through his parents, England on residency – he represented England in a non-cap game against the Barbarians last year – and Wales.
The 24-year-old was named by Wales head coach Wayne Pivac in a 38-man squad on Tuesday for six autumn internationals, starting against France in 18 days’ time. Sheedy says former Wales star Henson was an influential figure for him as he progressed in the game.
“It feels like so long ago when I was 18 or 19 and working with Nicky Robinson, Adrian Jarvis, Gavin Henson – these guys have been great mentors,” Sheedy said. “And working with Ian Madigan over the last few years (at Bristol), he’s been absolutely unbelievable for me. He took my game to another level – the competitive edge he brought to training, the way he drove me on.”
Sheedy has proved a pivotal figure in Bristol’s qualification for the Gallagher Premiership play-offs and European Challenge Cup final this season. He has amassed 177 league points – only Bath’s Rhys Priestland and Harlequins number 10 Marcus Smith have scored more – and proved a master tactician for the west country club.
“Pat (Bristol rugby director Pat Lam) talks a lot about international standards and being world-class,” Sheedy added. “Obviously, I don’t know what the international set-up is going to be like, but as far as what Pat drives here, it’s as close to international as I can imagine.
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“Every day, he is pushing us. Whether it’s extra skill work, extra analysis work, Pat and the coaching staff are amazing, and I know I wouldn’t be anywhere near an international call-up if it wasn’t for Pat and the coaches.”
On the call-up from Wales boss Pivac, Sheedy added: “It feels a bit surreal. I feel really proud and can’t wait to get going. “When I watch my games back, I am never satisfied. I could do 100 good things, but it’s that one bad thing that will stick out in my mind. I don’t want to change too much. The biggest thing is just trying to pick up on game-plan, pick up on the different techniques that the coaches want and just try and learn and grow my game as much as possible.”
Sheedy will be joined in the Wales squad by Bristol colleague Ioan Lloyd, who, at the age of 19, has also excelled in domestic and European competitions this term. A back three performer who can also carry out fly-half duties, his versatility underpins an outstanding talent.
Lloyd said: “It’s a dream come true to get the call-up. I am just really excited to get in there now and see what it’s all about. I was pretty much in shock when I found out. I wasn’t expecting it at all. Going in (to camp) is going to be a bit of a shock, seeing all of the boys I have watched growing up playing for both Wales and the British and Irish Lions. It’s going to be a bit surreal at first.”
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