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Amos earns praise from Gatland

Medical student Hallam Amos could be just what the doctor ordered from Wales boss Warren Gatland's perspective.

The 20-year-old Newport Gwent Dragons prospect will make his second Test match appearance when Wales launch their World Cup warm-up programme against Ireland at a sold-out Millennium Stadium on Saturday.

Toulon star Leigh Halfpenny might be a certainty as Wales' starting World Cup full-back, but Liam Williams - a player equally adept in full-back and wing positions at the highest level - is currently battling a foot injury that could threaten his tournament participation.

While the main microscope will be focused on uncapped quartet Eli Walker, Tyler Morgan, Dominic Day and Ross Moriarty this weekend, Amos' appearance in the number 15 shirt could ultimately prove the most significant development as Wales' World Cup countdown continues.

"Hallam hasn't had many opportunities," Gatland said. "We feel he can play on the wing or at full-back, where he gives us a left-foot option.

"In training, I couldn't believe how good his footwork was. It took me by surprise.

"We've seen some of the tries he has scored with the Dragons and some of the off-loads he has put in. He got better as the season went on last season, and I am looking forward to seeing how he goes.

"It is a great chance for him, particularly if Liam doesn't come through from his injury. We have to make sure we have that full-back position covered if Leigh picks up an injury or breaks down."

Stockport-born Amos, who moved to Wales as a four-year-old, has just completed a second year of medical studies at Cardiff University and received news that he had passed his latest exams while on a punishing pre-World Cup training camp in Switzerland last month.

And if he does make Gatland's final 31-man World Cup squad, then it could mean a planned hospital placement being put on hold until after rugby's 2015 global spectacular ends in October.

"It's a huge game on Saturday," Amos said. "Shaun Edwards (Wales defence coach) spoke earlier this week about how it's not often your first game of your season is possibly your biggest.

"It's a massive opportunity, especially for all us youngsters who haven't played as much. Usually, pre-season games are in front of a few thousand and don't matter much, but this is huge.

"World Cups are the biggest thing in sport and one at home might not come around again in my career. Everyone has got to grab the opportunity as best they can, and hopefully it will spur the boys on to putting in that extra one or two per cent.

"I have been in and around the squad for a couple of years. It's often tough sitting on the sideline and being travelling reserve, watching the boys go out there. I would have loved to have played earlier but I've been selected this weekend and hopefully I can put in a good performance."

And reflecting on training stints in Switzerland and Qatar, Amos said: "It has been very tough but everyone got through it and we are definitely stronger for it.

"There were 15-hour days and it was good to put yourself through it and come through the other side."


From Belfast Telegraph