The XV : Stephen Waldron

22 Dec

Position – Right Wing

School – Ysgol Glantaf

When The XV last saw Stephen play, he did not score, did not make a heroic last-ditch try-saving-tackle, in fact he didn’t have a lot to do in the game as a whole, but this in no way hid the fact the Glantaf winger is a special talent.

Waldron has a boxy running style: lots of short, fast steps. He uses stutter steps to fix defenders and  is deceptively difficult to put down, seemingly springing off would be tacklers and scuttling off in another direction.

If you are looking for a professional similarity, think Chiefs and All Black winger Lelia Masaga.

Waldron certainly travels the ground quickly but what is most impressive is his explosivity. Coaches will often talk about “five-meter-squared” speed and this is where Waldron excels.

When stepping off either foot it is like a sudden burst of electricty, and he is out of a tackler’s reach. This winger doesn’t need space to hurt sides.

When running through traffic it’s as if everything has slowed down to a walking pace and he can pick his way through. Like an NFL running back he is patient in picking a gap in a tight spot, and he seems to be able to map out the defence in front of him quickly.

Like any talented player, Waldron creates for himself fractions of time that just make the game look easy. His feet hold defenders long enough to allow him to make firm decisions, but they also enable support to catch up for those occasions when defences finally snag him.

Opposing defenders are searching for the big hit on him, but the time he buys, and his own toughness, make Waldron difficult to turn over.

His kicking game was relatively untested against Radyr, although his positioning looked generally sound. He pulls in a little bit tight to his centre at times, which does leave an opportunity for a good side to get outside him. Pace won’t always get you out of trouble.

I would like to see him go looking for work a little more too. He could certainly be used coming off his wing at dummy-half or as a split frst receiver to get his hands on the ball and make something happen for his team.

Against top opposition he has the kind of spark to open up some difficult defences to obtain space for the rest of his side to play in.

Elite feet and good speed mean headaches for defences across south Wales.

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