The huge potential of Mason Grady following brother with Wales call-up
He cites Brian O’Driscoll as his childhood favourite, he’s been likened to George North and his brother is a Welsh international.
Now Mason Grady has the opportunity to follow them all on to the Test stage having been included in Warren Gatland’s Wales squad for the Six Nations.
The 20-year-old Cardiff centre was always likely to be right up Gatland’s street given he’s 6ft 5ins and 17st 4lbs, while also possessing the pace that enables him to play on the wing.
So even though he only has 19 regional appearances to his name, it’s not a huge shock to see him fast-tracked into the Welsh party for the forthcoming Championship campaign.
That means he has the chance to follow in the footsteps of his elder brother Cory Allen, who won six caps at centre and wing during Gatland’s first spell in charge.
Sadly, Cory had to retire from playing last month at the age of 29 due to a long-standing knee injury, so now it’s Grady maintaining the family tradition.
Reacting to his Wales selection, he said: “I’m absolutely buzzing. I’m really surprised. I didn’t expect to get the call up to be honest. When the boys told me I thought they were taking the mick.
“Growing up as a kid in Wales, that’s all you want really, so I am just super proud. Hopefully I’ve done my family proud and hopefully I’ll get a cap soon.”
Sport certainly runs in his doubtlessly proud family. His mother Julie played basketball for Rhondda Rebels and competed at the Commonwealth Games, while his other brother, Ashton Allen, who stands 7ft tall, has had a Welsh cap in basketball.
Then there’s fellow threequarter Cory, who had spells on the books of Cardiff, the Ospreys and the Dragons and memorably scored a hat-trick of tries in Wales’ opening game of the 2015 World Cup against Uruguay.
Grady – who attended Ysgol Gymraeg Bro Morganwg in Barry and Cardiff’s Ysgol Gyfun Gymraeg Glantaf – had another rugby role model as he was growing up in addition to his elder brother.
“My grandparents are Irish, so I always looked up to Brian O’Driscoll to be honest,” he says.
“He was unbelievable. I just loved watching him every time he was on. He just never had a quiet game. He was always doing something around the pitch.
“His highlights reel is unbelievable. The tries he scored and the plays he set up, it’s crazy.”
The midfield position Ireland and Lions legend O’Driscoll occupied is very much the favoured role for the versatile Grady.
“I have always been a centre. The 13 jersey is my preferred position to be honest,” he says.
“I just get involved in the game a bit more there. Defensively there is more to do. I do enjoy playing on the wing, scoring a few tries, but I enjoy 13 a bit more.”
He added: “Every time I get the ball, I just try and do something to impact the game and benefit the team. It’s been good to get a few starts this season. I am really enjoying it.”
Cardiff’s attack coach Matt Sherratt works closely with Grady and sees huge potential in him.
“He reminds me of George North a little bit in terms of his frame. He is a similar size and a powerful lad,” he said.
“He’s got a frame that you can’t easily ignore. He is young lad who can brush people off and he’s got pace as well, so he’s got an exciting future.
“His biggest strength is his carrying game. It can take two or three people to stop him. His metres after contact are very good.
“The more touches Mason can have the better because he has got physical attributes that you can’t coach. He is a phenomenal athlete. He’s quick, he’s big, he’s got a decent skill-set, while some of his work off the ball is exceptional.
“He is a really good kid as well. He’s very diligent. He’s a good professional. He’s got better and better as the season has progressed.
“His ceiling for improvement is massive. He can be as good as he wants to be. If he can keep developing, he’s got the physical attributes to go a long way.”
Adding his thoughts, Cardiff’s director of rugby Dai Young said: “Mason works very hard at his game which is important. He’s always working on the little bits, as in your catch-and-pass skills and your decision-making. So certainly we are really pleased what he is showing us.
“He’s got all the attributes to kick on and be an international. He’s obviously got size but he’s got real top end gas as well and a bit of footwork.
“He’s got a bit of attitude about him too. He’s quite happy to run round somebody as well as run over them, which is a nice little bit of attitude to have.”
Support our Nation today
For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.
Must be seen as heir apparent to North. Given the wear and tear of the game he should get a lot of game time in rotation with the incumbent before becoming the main No.13 in the squad. Wish him well for a long and injury free career.