Rugby union: Mold RUFC product James King makes Ospreys debut

A PRECOCIOUS talent who learnt his trade at Mold Rugby Club is still pinching himself at making his first start for the Ospreys.

Teenager James King received the shock call-up to take on Guinness Premiership side Bath in the Anglo-Welsh Cup on Saturday after a player crisis left the Welsh regional giants short-staffed.

Former Alun School student King said: “It was great but it was definitely a bit of a shock. I was joking about it happening at the start of the season and then now it has.”

Building on a cameo Magners League appearance against Glasgow Warriors and a 45-minute showing versus Northampton Saints in the Anglo-Welsh Cup, King started the Bath clash at lock after 29 Ospreys regulars, including Wales international stars James Hook and Shane Williams, were unavailable.

Despite going in ahead at half-time, deteriorating weather conditions at the Recreation Ground made it difficult for either team to play and Bath had too much for the depleted Liberty Stadium outfit, going on to win the game 21-11.

“It was a horrid game and the conditions made it really challenging, but it was a great experience,” said James.

“It’s always good to be considered and it shows that the system is working.

“It was good to be there and I think the plan now is to keep training with everyone and hopefully try and stay there.”

Although disappointed with the loss, James said it was a privilege to play in the same side as the likes of former All Blacks captain Jerry Collins.

“It was mind blowing,” James added. “I didn’t think I would ever play in the same team as Jerry Collins – and I still can’t believe it now.”

Australia-born King, who was nicknamed ‘Skippy’ by his Mold team-mates, joined the Ospreys academy ranks in the summer of 2008 and went on to star for Wales in the Under 20 Six Nations in February and the Junior World Championship in Japan two months later.

Aubrey Evans, one of King’s former Mold coaches, said: “It’s fantastic that he has got where he has. He’s a talented rugby player and he’s done it through individual hard work.

“James came through the ranks at Mold Rugby Club, I think the club has a bit of an input, but a huge amount was James himself. It’s great for all the younger players at the club to show what they can achieve.

“He’s flying the flag for North Wales rugby and Mold Rugby Club.”

Head coach at Mold, Eddie Kirby, added: “I coached him when he was in the youth team. It goes to show that we have got a good system in place and if people are lucky enough to get spotted they can go all the way.

“The club wishes him all the best for the future.”