Christian Wade: The Gareth Bale of rugby union
Christian Wade is the next big superstar of English rugby
Christian Wade has taken the world of rugby union by storm this season.
The 22-year-old has been bubbling under the surface for some time, making a major impact in the world of sevens before imposing himself on the 15-man game.
And, after less than two years at the top domestic level, he’s already being talked about as the future superstar of English rugby.
Wade appears to have all the credentials, and emulated Gareth Bale’s achievements in football by scooping the RPA Players’ Player and Young Player Awards at a gala dinner last month.
"I am surprised and humbled as well. It is the greatest feeling to have the respect of your peers," he said on collecting the awards.
"And to be the first player to do it since Jonny Wilkinson in the year England won the World Cup is a real shock. I am very thankful."
Like the Welshman with the round ball, few could argue with Wade’s success. Joint-top try scorer (with teammate Tom Varndell) in the Aviva Premiership with 13, the former Royal Grammar School student in High Wycombe isn’t just a finisher.
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His raw pace and athleticism makes him an obvious danger in attack, but his defensive work has improved in recent times. Indeed, Wade is a strong tackler who is willing to get dirty in the ruck.
He’s also been tested with the highball on a regular basis this season as teams look for a weakness, but again the youngster has improved that area of his game.
Despite impressing for England with a hat-trick in a non-cap international against the Springbok Barbarians last summer, Wade was overlooked for the Six Nations that followed.
His form in the Aviva Premiership meant Stuart Lancaster couldn’t say no again this time around, and the speedster has already signaled his intent with tries against the Barbarians at Twickenham back in May.
A first real test – and real cap – will now come against Argentina on Saturday night, with Wade starting at number 14 in the hostile atmosphere of Salta.
It's an opportunity the youngster has been waiting for, and he's desperate to make the shirt his own.
"When you are playing in an England shirt you have to make it your own," said Wade, according to The Independent.
"These opportunities don't come up that much and you have to be at your best to make it count."
There are plenty of uncapped players in the squad, and all will be looking to make an impact. The aim will be to force their way into Lancaster’s squad for November’s three-match run against Australia, the Pumas and New Zealand.
Given that Wade has passed all the tests in-front of him over the past 12-months, there is little to suggest that he can’t make the grade at the highest level – on the international stage.
And, with BBC purchasing the rights to show the two-match test series, the wider general public may get their first glimpse of the game’s hottest property.