By Steffan Thomas
New Wales hooker Sam Parry will thrive at international level, according to former Ospreys coach Allen Clarke.
Parry is a latecomer to the international game and will make his Wales debut at the age of 28 having been named on the bench against France this Saturday.
And former Ireland hooker Clarke believes the Ospreys man has an edge over rivals Ryan Elias and Eliot Dee.
“I’ve absolutely no doubt Sam has the ability not just to hold his own at international level but to actually thrive at test level,” said Clarke.
“He’s got the positional skills, he’s excellent at the scrums and lineouts, he’s got the physical qualities for his position and he’s got a point of difference over the other two hookers in the squad.
“He’s great over the ball and defensively while he’s an explosive ball carrier.
“First and foremost Wales will want their hooker to be accurate throwing in at the lineout and also good in the tight.
“Sam can do all the basics but he’s also very mobile and has scored a lot of tries for the Ospreys.”
Parry had previously been invited to train with Wales back in 2014 but wouldn’t have imagined he’d have to wait a further six years to win his first cap.
But a series of injuries for the Pembrokeshire product stunted his development and Clarke insists it has been a long time coming.
The focus is all going to be on Rees-Zammit and rightly so.
But Sam Parry has been grinding for years and years. https://t.co/BQMOR1M6H3
— james (@JamesRees8) October 22, 2020
He said: “In fairness to Wales in the past Sam was always somebody who was discussed when it came to selection but there was a lot of competition at hooker and the timing of some of his injuries really hit him back.
“He’s a great example to other regional players who have had to bide their time at regional level.
“He’s faced a lot of adversity and his degree of mental toughness is exceptional because many players would have given up by now.”
Pivac is trying to move Wales’ style of rugby away from the forward orientated game adopted by Gatland to a more fluid brand.
During his time coaching the Scarlets Pivac favoured forwards who posed a jackling threat at the breakdown in order to catch sides on the counter attack.
And Clarke believes Parry’s prowess at the breakdown makes him the perfect fit for Pivac.
He said: “He plays on the edge and he’s excellent at the breakdown which will suit the way Wayne Pivac wants Wales to play.
“He’s a real jackle threat and he’s tremendous over the ball.
“His breakdown work is exceptional and he’s a big and powerful ball carrier.
“He’s got exceptional acceleration and he’s good defensively.
“These are all traits you need to succeed at international level.”