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Cuthbert reflects on 'surreal' rise


Alex Cuthbert won the Six Nations with Wales this year

Alex Cuthbert won the Six Nations with Wales this year

PA Wire/Press Association Images

Alex Cuthbert won the Six Nations with Wales this year

Alex Cuthbert admits it has been a "mad" four years as he prepares to complete his remarkable rise from Sevens novice to British and Irish Lions tourist.

When the Lions were losing the second Test of a tumultuous series in South Africa in 2009, Wales wing Cuthbert was taking part in his first Sevens tournament.

"During the last Lions tour I remember I was watching the second Test at Bath Sevens," Cuthbert said.

During his formative years the Gloucester-born 23-year-old appeared more likely to become a showjumper or a footballer, and he did not take up rugby until he was 16 and studying at Hartpury College.

His speed and 6ft 6in frame quickly marked him out as a talent, but even at the age of 19 he was still learning his way in the game.

But the day Paul O'Connell's 2009 pride were being beaten by Morne Steyn's last-gasp penalty in Pretoria, Cuthbert was making an impression that would put him on the path to selection for the 2013 tour.

His performance in Bath for the White Hart Marauders academy side saw him promoted to the Marauders' elite team, where he played alongside Wales Sevens international Craig Hill.

Hill was aware of Cuthbert's availability for Wales through his Wrexham-born mother, and was soon on the phone to national Sevens coach Paul John to ensure the winger was pulling on the three feathers, and not a red rose.

Cuthbert added: "They just lost and we had just lost in the final as well. That was my first tournament in rugby. In that tournament I was playing for the White Hart Marauders academy, and we lost to a team called 'The Smurfs', which was actually the Welsh Sevens team.

"I went from there to the Marauders main team, where I played with Craig Hill, and he was the one who told Paul John about me. It is weird, looking back. It's quite surreal if you think four years on and here I am. It's mad."