Cuthbert: 'When I left, I thought that was going to be it for Wales'
Wales wing Alex Cuthbert believes a three-year stint with English giants Exeter “rejuvenated” him and reinforced his self-belief to perform at the highest level.
Cuthbert knew he would be ineligible for his country when he joined the Chiefs, as he did not meet the 60-cap selection threshold for players plying their trade outside Wales.
He subsequently returned to Wales, joining the Ospreys and reclaiming a Test place during this season’s Autumn Nations Series four years after last representing his country.
And it has proved a spectacular return, highlighted by an outstanding display in Wales’ 23-19 Guinness Six Nations defeat against England when the 31-year-old ran a total of 68 metres further than any other player on the pitch.
It ended a week he is unlikely to forget, with his 50th cap following the birth of daughter Coco on Wednesday.
“I enjoyed every minute of the three years I spent at Exeter, and that probably rejuvenated me. I knew I was good enough to play,” Cuthbert said.
“When I was fit, I was in that starting team and I loved every minute of it.
“If I ever came back to Wales, would I get back into the Wales team? Deep down, probably not. When I left, I thought that was going to be it for Wales.
“But Wayne (Wales head coach Wayne Pivac) has given me a chance, and I am just trying to take every opportunity I can.
“It is like back when I was 22 or 23. When I had opportunities, I took them.
“I always wanted to play for Wales again, especially being so close to 50 caps. That was a big milestone, and it was one of my goals when I started.”
Dan Biggar compared Cuthbert’s Twickenham virtuosity to his form of 2013 and 2014, which was highlighted by him scoring two tries against England nine years ago that destroyed their Grand Slam dream as Wales’ stunning 30-3 victory saw them crowned champions.
“Having a young family has taken my mind off a lot of the rugby. When I was younger, I put more pressure on myself,” Cuthbert added.
“But I am enjoying rugby at the moment, and when I start enjoying it I get that confidence and I just want to do the best I can for the team and hopefully put us in situations to win games.”
As the Wales squad headed home from south-west London, Cuthbert began concentrating on his next task – changing nappies!
“It (birth) was an elective C-section, so we knew it was going to be on the Wednesday,” he said.
“They told us to go in at 9am and we were supposed to be fourth, but there were five or six emergencies. So I was there until midnight that night, and she came just before then.
“I got a couple of hours with her and then I had to shoot back to (Wales) camp. I will go back, and I am sure I will be changing nappies at two, four and six in the morning.”
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