'Robinson was very similar': Radwan can become the new Billy Whizz
Former England captain Nick Easter believes rising Newcastle star Adam Radwan can deliver the same electric pace and defence breaking footwork at Test level that made Jason Robinson such a phenomenal attacking force. Easter, who twice skippered his country during his 54-cap career, played alongside the World Cup-winning Robinson, who went by the nickname of Billy Whizz.
Now coaching the defence at Newcastle, the ex-No8 is eager to see Radwan build on the hat-trick he scored for England against Canada on his July Test debut while also spearheading the Falcons’ Gallagher Premiership campaign which so far has seen the winger score in the narrow loss to champions Harlequins and in last weekend’s win at Bath.
Wasps, who hammered Bristol 44-8 last weekend, head to Kingston Park on Saturday and their free-flowing style could offer Radwan more opportunities to build on his growing reputation as the deadliest finisher in the Premiership following his involvement earlier this week in the latest England training camp.
One thing for certain, Easter is happy his Newcastle defence does not have to deal with Radwan’s bag of tricks. He told RugbyPass: “With less room on the pitch, the old adage that there is no answer to pace is even more relevant and Adam is a supremely gifted athlete. He is a very special rugby player with that X-factor.
“Jason Robinson was very similar and while he didn’t have that out-and-out pace, his ability over the first five or ten metres was electric and even against suffocating defences he would suddenly be away, skipping past tacklers.
"Sometimes we can't see him at training he is that quick"
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“The really exciting thing is that there is still so much more to come from Adam from a rugby point of view and he is very hungry to learn. He is very down to earth, like so many of the guys up here. He doesn’t get ahead of himself and knows there are things to work on. His pace and low centre of gravity mean he can beat opponents in the proverbial phone box and it’s quite astonishing given how little room you get on the pitch.
“Another player who had that kind of ability to step off either foot was David Strettle (ex-England, Harlequins and Saracens). As a defence coach, you are feeding information about opponents, noting if they prefer to step off one foot because they are strong off one or the other but with Adam, he is equally adept off both which is difficult for opponents.”
Given the pace and instinctive running style of Radwan, how do Newcastle ensure their players can run support lines when he sets off? “When he receives a kick, you stand 25 metres in front of him and hope that he comes within five metres of you,” said Easter. “Any further away and he steps, then you will be double the distance from him!”
Falcons are evolving their attacking game while remaining intensely physical upfront with ball carriers such as hooker George McGuigan also catching the eye. Easter is excited by the potential in a squad that supplements Radwan’s pace with the speed of fellow wing Iwan Stephens, full-back Tom Penny and wing/centre Ben Stevenson.
Easter added: “The role of a winger has changed massively, particularly in defence, and they have to make decisions in the backfield, especially with the 50:22 rule coming in. They are taking a more leading role in defence while in defence they are no longer hanging out wide, they look for work and to create the opportunities that Ben Cohen did for England.
“Not many carried that on in the northern hemisphere after Ben retired and we have been trying to get that message to our wingers. We told them in pre-season that their importance to the team is greater than ever. We are moving the ball more than we did last season having set our foundations after being promoted.”
'Dean was just honest with me. With some Premiership DoRs it’s hard to have honest chats'
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