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'I don't know if you can hold back the hype' | Sam Prendergast is the real deal | KEITH WOOD

Sam Prendergast's performance against the Emirates Lions on Saturday displayed a level of calm that suggests he has what it takes at this level.



Sam Prendergast's performance against the Emirates Lions on Saturday displayed a level of calm that suggests he really has what it takes to make a long career at this level, according to Munster and Ireland legend Keith Wood.

Leinster came back from a 15-point deficit in the final 20 minutes to beat the Lions in Johannesburg by three points. This win with a largely inexperienced Leinster side would continue Leinster's unbeaten season.

While there were a few performances that stood out, it was the debut for Ireland U20s star Sam Prendergast that grabbed the attention of everyone, including former Ireland captain Keith Wood.

Speaking on Wednesday Night Rugby, Wood admitted that he was firmly on the Prendergast hype train.

"I don't like overhyping it," Wood said. "Leo [Cullen] came out during the week and said the media like to overhype everybody.

"I don't know where my hype radar goes with it. I think he's a joy to watch. Not just because of his skills. Playing U20s is different, you can try different things, it isn't as disciplined, it isn't as organised as other rugby.

"But I watched him play down in Cork for a couple of matches. I couldn't get over his composure. He's a bit of a wonky run, which is interesting, and then you see him outpace a French winger to collect a ball.

"Then Leinster do what they've done fairly consistently, which is throw guys in at the deep end at times, the right chance and the right opportunity with nothing at stake but pride for the most part.

"Playing at altitude, everybody sucking diesel for the most part, and he's mister composure for the end of the game to bring a team from behind to win down there."

Prendergast is 'just so calm'

While Wood knows that Prendergast is still far from the finished product, and needs to go through the regular conditioning to make it at elite level, he admits that it is difficult not to be hyped by the young star.

"I don't know if you can hold back the hype," Wood added. "He had all the time in the world to do what he wanted, it didn't seem to matter what was happening.

"Whether he was flat to the line, catching the ball in the middle of people, deciding to kick it out over his shoulder, he was totally unflappable.

"I was excited watching that. He has to be big enough and strong enough to deal with playing at a higher level, and there's a development phase, he has to go through that.

"But he's just so calm! It's rare, there's only one other guy that's showing that calm at the moment."

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