How good is Iwan Stephens, the England U-20s international coming to Wales

Iwan Stephens crosses for a try against Montpellier -Credit:Getty Images
Iwan Stephens crosses for a try against Montpellier -Credit:Getty Images

For all the talk of dual-qualified players pulling on an English jersey rather than a Welsh one at the minute, sometimes - it has to be said - they do come back.

Some get a taste of life in England, and maybe even wear the Red Rose at age level, and then decide that the grass is greener this side of the border.

Iwan Stephens, it seems, is one such example.

The 22-year-old has penned a deal to join Cardiff next season, with the son of former Wales international and Llanelli fly-half Colin leaving Gallagher Premiership outfit Newcastle Falcons after four years.

His father famously kicked Llanelli to victory over the world champion Wallabies back in 1992, but Iwan was born and raised in Leeds - after his dad's career took him to the north of England.

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In 13-man country, the younger Stephens grew up playing the other code, being on the books of Leeds Rhinos' academy. One coast-to-coast try caught the eye, but when the time came to switch codes, it was Newcastle who were quickest to react.

While at the Falcons, Stephens has been capped by England U20s, but as he prepares for a move to Cardiff, it would seem he's throwing his lot in with Wales.

But, ahead of his move to the Arms Park, just what will he offer? His try record of 11 in 25 matches at the English Premiership's worst team is a promising sign in itself.

"He's a good attacker," said Newcastle defence coach Scott Baldwin. "I think he was our top try-scorer before he got injured.

"He perhaps struggled a little defensively when he came back from injury. But all in all, he's got a lot of potential.

"He looks for a lot of work off the ball, a little bit like Chris Ashton. He wants the ball. He's got a turn of pace as well.

"He's got good feet and he's a decent goal-kicker as well. He can play 15, but he hasn't for us.

"He loves his darts. He's actually really good at darts. He'd be the best at the club I'd say. He's pretty chilled on that side of things.

"He's not the biggest. Defence isn't a massive weakness, but that would be the thing you'd look to work on."

"He's still quite young. He's got a lot of growth in him, but he's played a lot of rugby for a 22-year-old. The Premiership is a tough league, as well."

The Dragons had also taken a look at him, but it was Cardiff who sealed the deal for the 22-year-old. Baldwin admits he looks a good fit for his new club.

That's exactly the reason Cardiff coach Matt Sherratt has snapped him up.

"I think I talked about it last week," said Sherratt. "When you look at somebody, your first instinct is does he fit the model of a Cardiff player?

"Pretty quickly, you can see from his highlights that he's an exciting player. He reminds you of a Matthew Morgan or Theo Cabango.

"He's not the biggest, but he's got really good feet. He's got a rugby league background. He's got some of the softer skills so, without being too technical, he holds his feet well out the back in shape. He scans well and can link.

"I think he's going to be an asset for us. He's certainly someone who, in broken play, can get the Arms Park on the edge of their seats.

"He looks quite multi-skills for a winger. Not just an athlete, if you like."