Mark Ring liked the look of Callum Sheedy from the first moment he watched him play.
“What I absolutely loved about him was he reminded me very much of myself,” explains the former Wales centre.
It was some ten years ago that Ring first saw Sheedy in action, having been alerted by his brother Paul, who was the young fly-half’s coach at St Peters RFC.
“My brother kept on to me, saying ‘you’ve got to watch him’,” he recalls.
“So I went up to Kidwelly, where they were playing in a cup match.
“It was Callum’s last year of Youth.
“It was obvious he had so much belief in his own ability. He trusted his skills to make things happens.
“My brother would just encourage him to express himself.
“He had an innate ability and so much belief in himself, Callum. I liked his instinct and the way he just kept on trying things all the time, trying to win the game.
“Sometimes he would make mistakes because he was almost trying too hard, looking to do something magical to turn the game on its head.
“But I liked that in him. If you are a youngster and you go into a shell, then I don’t think you will develop.
“You’ve still got to keep that ambition and be allowed to play the way you see it, even if you sometimes get it wrong.
“I think that’s a fantastic trait to have as a youngster."
A decade on and Ring now sees a player who has developed into a really rounded outside-half.
“What I like about him is he’s still his own man,” he said.
“He’s got the same instincts and the same belief that he can make things happen.
“Even though the game is extremely structured now, he is still his own man.
“It’s only experience that turns a player into a more mature player.
“So he’s more rounded now, but he still has that instinctive ability and belief in himself that he had as a youngster.”
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Assessing Sheedy’s game in detail, Ring said: “He looks to me as though he can find his own space and create his own time and space on the ball.
“If you compare him to Jarrod Evans for example, Jarrod is very correct but doesn’t create his own time and space on the ball because he plays too flat all the time.
“With Sheedy, if it’s not going anywhere after two or three phases, he will drop in the pocket and do the simple things with his kicking game.
“He also provides time for himself to put kicks in for his wingers when the opposition push up too quickly.
“I know lot of players do the same thing, but he seems to have more time on the ball to get it right, to get that kick accuracy on the money.
“When he kicks across field, it’s regularly landing in the winger’s hands where a lot of other players kick across field and it’s going straight into touch, too far in front or too high.
“Wingers seem to take the ball from his cross kicks at pace and at perfect height.
“He creates time for himself to get more success on a more regular basis.
“He knows when to kick. He also instinctively knows when to hit the line hard and flat. He waits for those moments when the opposition are put on the back foot slightly or stood still.
“He doesn’t play too flat when the opposition are coming forward on a rolling start.
“But if someone has carried the ball beyond them and created a quick ruck and the defensive line have to take two or three small steps backward to get on onside, that’s when he will hit the flat line. That’s when he will it hard, when he is coming forward at speed and they are rolling backwards.
“He gets the timing for when to hit it flat, when to drop deep and when to play somewhere in the middle. That’s instinctive.”
Sheedy’s form with Bristol over the last couple of seasons earned him a call-up to Wales’ autumn squad and, following his debut as a replacement against Ireland, he made his first start in last Saturday’s 18-0 win over Georgia.
“I think he did okay,” said Ring, who won 32 caps between 1983 and 1991.
“I don’t think the game was perfect for him in terms of allowing him bundles of possession and lots of opportunities to run Georgia ragged.
“That wasn’t the way it worked out.
“But he handled his position with authority, poise and maturity.
“When he was younger, he would try and make everything happen all the time.
“He’s now arrived as a mature fly-half, playing the pivotal role.
“It’s great to see. I am a Cardiff lad and I love watching Cardiff lads come through the system and make it all the way.”
So the question is whether Sheedy retains the No 10 jersey for Saturday’s big one against England at Parc y Scarlets?
Ring has no doubt in his mind on that one.
“I would be very comfortable with him starting, absolutely,” he declared.
“I would love to see him forge a partnership as the regular 10.
“Personally, I’d like to see him playing with Gareth Davies on a regular basis and surrounded by all the number one players with everybody back fit.
“I would also like to see him play with a second five-eight.
“It’s tough sometimes for a fly-half when you’ve got two centres who can’t really create anything or take any pressure off you at international level.
“You need someone with you.
“I think potentially Rhys Patchell could play 12, but he has had his injury problems.
“I would like to see them take a big risk and put Dan Biggar with Sheedy, play them together. I would start to get excited about that.
“I would like to see Biggar play a No 12 role. They could work together to get the back three or Jonathan Davies to run into those lines if they want to get that bit of go-forward.
“It’s not asking an awful lot to change the personnel to do some basic ball-carrying up an over the gainline if it’s required.
“I think it’s nonsense to think you are going to play a No 12 because he’s a bigger, stronger more physical type, without any creativity whatsoever.”