Gareth Anscombe: A treacherous road to becoming the Welsh hero

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 Credit: PA Images
Credit: PA Images

Wales fly-half Gareth Anscombe was the hero for his side as he kicked the winning conversion late to claim their first win in South Africa.

Anscombe came off the replacements bench after Dan Biggar left the field with an injury concern and was central to the 13-12 scoreline at full-time.

Welsh hero

Wales scored the game’s only try in the 78th minute through wing Josh Adams before Anscombe slotted a difficult yet decisive kick to create history. The hero says he felt confident stepping up to the tee and was delighted to see the ball fly over.

“I was fairly confident in my ability to kick it,” said Anscombe.

“Although, I must admit, the legs were feeling a little bit soft at the time. I just told myself I wasn’t going to watch it go over.

“Thankfully, it went where it was supposed to. Those are the kicks you dream of, when you get them right.

“I was struggling to see it because I lost it in the floodlight but I saw Jenks’ (Neil Jenkins) reaction. He usually tells you before anyone else does.”

The Bloemfontein crowd was raucous and noisy, particularly during Anscombe’s kick and the New Zealand-born star believes it was “one of the biggest kicks” of his life.

“The atmosphere was amazing and crowd was noisy to say the least,” added Anscombe.

“I’m so rapped for the team. It’s a special moment and I’m proud I could step up and do my job.

“It’s one of the biggest kicks of my life and I’m glad this one went where it was supposed to. Maybe the rugby gods jumped on our back on this one.”

Massive sacrifice

Anscombe missed the birth of his second child whilst on tour to South Africa, and whilst it was sad to miss such an occasion, his heroic moment vindicated his decision.

“I have made a lot of sacrifices in my life, been through a lot and missed the birth of my son,” added Anscombe.

“I missed something special. It will be nice to show him this in 10 years’ time and say: ‘This is why dad missed it!’. Hopefully he will understand.

“My family has done a hell of a lot for me and I’m glad we could contribute to this victory.

“For what I’ve been through, it’s something I will look back and remember.”

Anscombe has suffered a great deal with injury, having needed his leg to be realigned after breaking his tibia, making his return to the highest level that much better.

“It definitely makes it sweeter,” said Anscombe.

“Ironically, last week was two years to the day when I had the surgery, the osteotomy.

“That was when everything got turned upside down and it went from an ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) to something a whole lot more.

“That’s been well-documented but it was almost two years to this date. It’s funny how the world works.

“It wasn’t about whether I was going to play international rugby again, it was whether I was going to run.

“I took time last week to reflect on it a little bit. There were so many unknowns and it’s a bit of a pinch-me moment I’m here. I’m glad I could play a part in this group achieving something special.”

Family support

The 31-year-old commended his family for pushing him to keep playing and working hard. He believes the kick is “a culmination of so many people’s work.”

“My wife was the one that pushed me out the door,” added Anscombe.

“There is no way I’d be where I am without her and my family, but particularly my wife. We literally converted half the house to accommodate my recovery.

“I’ve paid my dues, I sacrificed and my family did. I worked hard and I have got a lot of people to thank for putting me in this position. That effort, that kick, is a culmination of so many people’s work.”

Wales have been underfire as a team since losing to Italy in the final round of the Six Nations, and Anscombe is proud of his side for putting themselves in a position to win the series.

“The group has copped a lot of a flak in the last few weeks,” said Anscombe.

“We put a tremendous amount of effort in last week and didn’t get what we deserved. I’m relieved and proud of the group, we deserved this one.

“We’ve created something special, something not many teams do.

“Wales had never won here [in South Africa] and we have the chance to win the series next weekend.”

READ MORE: Deon Fourie: ‘Unnecessary mistakes’ cost the Springboks the win in Bloemfontein

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