Wing wizard and rugby legend Shane Williams hung up his international boots last month with an emotional farewell that moved everyone who was privileged enough to witness it. There were tears, patriotism, typically whole-hearted endeavour and flashes of the jinking genius that has lit up the sport for an entire generation. All of this capped with a fairytale ending of a last minute try that proved there is scope for romance in an often brutal arena.
Shane will continue to torment opponents and excite fans at club level of course but on the international stage there are now some magical boots to fill.
The young contender for the great man’s crown is fellow PUMA star Aled Brew who has been tearing down the left flank in exhilarating fashion for several seasons and is now equipped to showcase his dazzling talents in the Six Nations.
Consistently outstanding and very often spectacular Aled has patiently served his apprenticeship under the expert tutorage of the master craftsman – being able to watch Williams at such close quarters is an education money cannot buy – and the Cardiff-born flyer now has his opportunity to shine.
Like his legendary predecessor he has cordite in his boots and is always looking to make things happen.
Though it’s his darting runs that electrify the stands and makes him such a fan’s favourite what is particularly impressive is Aled’s growing maturity and nous in other aspects of his game. There is now intelligence in his movement as he drifts from heavy traffic. A trademark of a truly great winger is to know when to appear invisible then burst into prominence, a sudden explosion of whirred legs and the wide, thrilled eyes of a predator moments from its prey. It is an art-form that Aled has down pat, regularly deceiving the opposition into complacency then punishing them with muscular ruthlessness moments later. It is traits such as this, in addition to his reliable handling and scorching pace, that has brought Brew into the international reckoning.
Now he faces the daunting task of taking on Shane William’s impeccable legacy but if any player can it is the ebulliently talented youngster.
It is the handing of the torch from a PUMA legend to a legend-to-be.