OPENSIDE flanker Nic Cudd is relishing the opportunity to show that size doesn’t matter as he stars for Newport Gwent Dragons at the breakdown, writes Chris Kirwan.
The 24-year-old has been in excellent form in the region’s back row this month and was man of the match in last Friday’s much-needed 14-3 win against Connacht.
Cudd got through a mountain of work in awful conditions at Rodney Parade, putting in tackles galore and being a pain at the contact area.
It prompted his captain Lewis Evans to pay tribute, using the nickname of "the clamp" to describe his back row colleague.
"You know that Nic is going to put his head where it hurts," said Evans. "He has that ability to get over the ball and his work rate is phenomenal."
Cudd make eight tackles against Connacht (the second highest) and won an impressive four turnovers.
Even more notable was his tally of 20 jackal attempts – which slowed down the Irish province’s ball – and he hit the contact area 22 times to speed up the Dragons’ possession.
It remains early days, but his performances have allayed fears that Cudd doesn’t have the bulk to thrive in modern rugby.
The west Walian is listed as 5ft 10ins and 14st 13lb – extremely small when up against most back row forwards.
However, he showed when up against a powerful Northampton side that he can mix it with the big boys and wants to keep making his point at the contact area.
"I enjoy the breakdown and being a nuisance, trying to get turnovers and securing quick ball for our backs," said Cudd, who signed a one-season deal in September. "I may not have the height but I think that sometimes works to my advantage at the breakdown.
"Maybe that has counted against me in the past but all I have to do is keep showing what I can do when I am given opportunities."
Those chances were hard to come by at the Scarlets because of a catalogue of injuries, the most serious being knee ligament damage that meant he missed most of last season.
"I’ve been knocked back a lot my injuries in the past so I am just glad to be playing and hopefully I can get a good run of games," he said.
"It took a bit of time to settle in here and get used to the calls, structure and also the level, because I was mostly playing semi-professional in Llanelli.
"I have been given a chance and I just want to keep getting out there on the field and improving."