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The return of Alex Cuthbert and what to expect 10 years on from becoming a Welsh rugby sensation

Ten years on from first bursting onto the scene, Alex Cuthbert is back in Welsh rugby, with a firm belief that he still has a lot to give.

It was in September 2011 that the winger made his Cardiff Blues debut, having switched from the Sevens circuit.

Such was the immediate impact he made, Cuthbert was playing for Wales within three months, winning his first cap against Australia that December.

Just three months on from that, he scored the try that sealed the 2012 Grand Slam, surging away to the line against France.

Then, a year later, he claimed a memorable try double in a 30-3 victory over England that secured another Six Nations title, with a Lions Test outing to follow against Australia that summer, complete with a further touchdown.

Cuthbert was to be pretty much an ever present in the Wales team for some five years, but he then became the target of criticism and abuse from keyboard warriors.

So, in 2018, after winning 48 caps, he opted to head for England by joining Exeter, ruling himself out of the international reckoning under the WRU’s 60-cap rule.

You can read the latest on when Wales’ current English-based players will have to return under the policy, here.

His time at the Devon club was plagued by injury, but towards the end of last season there were signs of him getting back to his potent best, with his powerful carrying and predatory finishing.

Now, at 31, he is back in Wales, with Toby Booth’s Ospreys. If he can continue his recent form, he could prove to be one of the signings of the season.

He has been explaining how the move came about and his hopes for the future in an interview for the region’s YouTube channel.

“I met Boothy a few times last season and got on quite well and I liked the culture and the ethos he wanted to bring within the Ospreys,” he said.

“It was just a good opportunity to come back to Wales as well.

“I had a great three years in England, but I’ve got a young family and thought it was good time to come back, especially with my age.

“With all the experience I’ve gained in those three years, it seemed a good opportunity to come back and express it over here.

“I still feel like I’ve got a lot to give towards the first team.

“I have got quite a few caps for Wales, I played at the top of the game with the Lions and have been in a pretty successful squad at Exeter winning the European Cup and the league and so forth.

“I just think I’ve got a lot of experience to give to the youngsters which I have been building the last couple of years.”

The man with 17 Test tries to his name added: “In terms of my game, I feel like I can really go to another level.

“I have got quite a few mates within the squad, so it seemed a real good fit.

“You want to join a quality team and if you name the Ospreys squad, it looks pretty hot on paper.

“With Gareth Anscombe coming back at 10, he is going to drive things forward and it’s good to be on the back end of a very good pack, with a good scrum, lineout and maul.

“That’s all you want as a back really. It’s quite exciting and I am just looking forward to getting straight back into it really.”

As for his goals for the season, he said: “I have got to set myself quite high standards in terms of what I bring to the squad.

“Getting into that first team will be paramount for me in terms of nailing down my place.

“I want to prove to Boothy why he signed me and show him what I can offer the team and hopefully week-in, week-out, I can do that.”

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Cuthbert’s return to Wales will see him competing in the new United Rugby Championship, up against South Africa’s top four sides.

“It’s exciting,” said the Gloucestershire-raised winger, whose mother was born in Wrexham.

“Every time we played against the Springboks for Wales, we used to love playing those games.

“You sort of know what you are going to get, big physical games of high intensity.

“Their teams are going to put everything into it, especially with Europe on the line.

“We get to go there as well to take in a bit of culture over there and it’s only going to bring us tighter as a squad because we are going to be together for a couple of weeks, so it’s something to look forward to.”

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