Gareth Anscombe has Wayne Smith to thank for call up to Wales squad
Warren Gatland has revealed that a glowing recommendation from one of world rugby's outstanding coaches played its part in New Zealand-born Gareth Anscombe making an unlikely journey from Super Rugby to potential Wales Test star.
Anscombe, 23, is one of four uncapped players in Wales' 34-man squad for this season's RBS 6 Nations Championship.
Despite making just nine appearances as a Cardiff Blues player, the former Auckland and Chiefs fly-half will report for Wales duty next week, joining forces with fellow number 10s Dan Biggar and Rhys Priestland.
Anscombe, son of former Ulster coach, Mark, and whose mother was born in Wales, offers Gatland options at fly-half and full-back.
And the Wales boss says a conversation he had with Wayne Smith, who worked with Anscombe at the Chiefs and will rejoin New Zealand's coaching staff this year after helping to mastermind their 2011 World Cup triumph, provided an invaluable guide.
"I had a good chat to Wayne Smith about him and he couldn't speak more highly," Gatland said.
"They were very impressed by him at the Chiefs, both as a player and as a person.
"When that recommendation comes from someone like Wayne Smith, you've got to take notice."
Wales squad for the RBS 6 Nations Championship Backs: L Halfpenny (Toulon), L Williams (Scarlets), G North (Northampton), A Cuthbert (Cardiff Blues), H Amos (Newport Gwent Dragons), T Morgan (Newport Gwent Dragons), S Williams (Scarlets), J Davies (Clermont Auvergne), J Roberts (Racing Metro), C Allen (Cardiff Blues), G Anscombe (Cardiff Blues), R Priestland (Scarlets), D Biggar (Ospreys), G Davies (Scarlets), R Webb (Ospreys), M Phillips (Racing Metro).
Forwards: G Jenkins (Cardiff Blues), P James (Bath), R Evans (Scarlets), A Jarvis (Ospreys), S Lee (Scarlets), S Andrews (Cardiff Blues), R Hibbard (Gloucester), S Baldwin (Ospreys), K Dacey (Cardiff Blues), A-W Jones (Ospreys), J Ball (Scarlets), B Davies (Wasps), L Charteris (Racing Metro), D Lydiate (Ospreys), J King (Ospreys), S Warburton (Cardiff Blues, capt), J Tipuric (Ospreys), T Faletau (Newport Gwent Dragons).