Heavily touted Irish U20 Six Nations Grand Slam-winning flyhalf Sam Prendergast has been the name on all Irish Rugby supporter’s lips as of late.
At 6’4” and 95kg, the 20-year-old has all of the physical attributes required for the professional game. Yet, it is his mental makeup that sets him apart from other players his age.
Up against a desperate and physical Emirates Lions team away from home was not the easiest of debuts for the youngster.
Yet, despite falling two scores behind, Prendergast pulled the strings masterfully as he guided a heavily rotated Leinster side around the park.
Utilising the recently introduced 50/22 kicking rule to great effect, Prendergast pinned the Lions back time and again. But it wasn’t just from the boot where the Kildare man excelled as he routinely prodded the Lions’ defensive line before releasing a well-timed pass to set his outside runners free.
From the kicking tee, he was almost perfect, landing four conversions and two penalties, including the game-winner.
A debut to remember…
Today’s #BKTURC Player of the MatchADVERTISEMENT
— Leinster Rugby (@leinsterrugby) April 15, 2023
Defensively, Prendergast showed glimpses of his physicality at the contact point as he chopped down several large Lions ball carriers.
Yet above all else, it was the cerebral element to Prendergast that will have Irish Rugby fans dreaming of what could unfold over the next decade.
Trailing by two tries with mere minutes remaining in the contest, Leinster struck fast, and they struck hard. At the centre of the action, the flyhalf showed no signs of panic, and this confidence clearly rubbed off on his teammates.
As mentioned, the game-winning penalty whilst as close to a gimme as one will find in professional rugby, still needed kicking. Taking his time before splitting the uprights, Prendergast confirmed he is here to stay and could well be the first choice for the province and dare we say it, country by this time next season.
— BKT United Rugby Championship (URC) (@URCOfficial) April 15, 2023