It would not be unfair to say that Patchell has begun his club career at the coal face. Coming through the Cardiff Blues Academy he made his senior debut last season and is part of a mid-table team that over the past number of seasons has been moving in the wrong direction i.e. down the table. That said, he made 25 appearances across all competitions last season scoring 153 points and I think Cardiff have a player that can make a real difference as they chase success.
Welsh rugby has suffered as a result of the economic downturn with resources and monies available from the WRU in shorter supply. Keenly felt at Cardiff, this lack of resources has probably helped Patchell get his chance and the enforced experience combined with exposure at international level has greatly benefited the young Fly Half.
At 6ft 3in and 92kg he is an inch taller then Jonathan Sexton and the same weight. Apart from the similar physical attributes, I have been struck by the likeness in their game. A natural kicker form the hand, with further development and training his place kicking (which isn’t bad) will improve but with Halfpenny at Cardiff and Wales he is under no immediate pressure. A well balanced runner he attacks the gain line like Sexton and is strong in the offload. He is also very strong in the tackle but unlike Sexton does not (at this early stage) possess the flexibility to slot in elsewhere in the back line. A fact that was exposed when he was unfortunate enough to feature at Centre in the recent summer tour defeat to Japan, although it’s important to note that he came on as an injury replacement.
Now a full international, his profile is growing and should he continue to develop he looks set to become a key player at provincial and international level for the Welsh. Wales is renowned for producing talented backs and Patchell appears at this early stage to be of a similar mould. The Welsh will welcome a Fly Half who unlike Biggar, Hook and Priestland is skillful, consistent, a natural leader and mentally and physically strong. I recently predicted that the Blues, a club that I must confess to having a soft spot for, will have a big season in 2013/14. If this is indeed to be the case then Patchell will be at the centre of it. Assuming all goes according to plan he should make the Wales 2014 6 Nations squad.
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