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'I saw Beauden Barrett in front of me and just had to back myself'

26-year-old Dungannon man Peter Nelson started for Canada against the All Blacks.

ONLY A FEW months ago, Peter Nelson was probably wondering if he had much of a future in rugby, as his time with Ulster was coming towards a close.

Fast forward to last night, however, and the 26-year-old was starting at out-half in a World Cup game against the All Blacks.

Qualifying for Canada through his Toronto-born grandmother, Nelson only made his international debut in July, although he had long been aware of the possibility. 

japan-rugby-wcup-new-zealand-canada Peter Nelson makes a big linebreak for Canada. Source: 小糸恵介

Having started the Canadians’ World Cup opener against Italy in the number 10 shirt, Nelson retained his spot for last night’s heavy defeat to the All Blacks. While the 63-0 result was a disappointment, Nelson was proud to have faced the Kiwis.

“It was a special experience to play against the All Blacks and to say I’ve done that is very special,” said the Dungannon man.

“The speed the All Blacks play at is incredible. We probably aren’t used to that. We probably haven’t played at that pace or with that high intensity in a Test match and it can only stand us in good stead going forward. With that under our belts now we know we have two huge games ahead.”

Facing the haka was a particularly memorable moment for Nelson.

“You can’t get intimidated,” he said post-match. “You respect them as players, they’re world champions. They’ve got some of the world’s best players but if we get intimidated by them, we shouldn’t be out there playing.”

The standout moment in Nelson’s display was a first-half linebreak from inside his own half, as he took an offload and burst upfield.

Nelson looked to beat final defender Beauden Barrett as he slalomed to his right, but the All Blacks fullback showed his pace to track Nelson down and stop him five metres short, denying the Canada out-half a brilliant score.

“I got a great offload from Lucas Rumball and saw Beauden in front of me and just had to back myself but he’s an incredible player,” said Nelson.

“He has incredible pace and he was able to track me down, but it was nice to make the break.”

peter-nelson-runs-in-to-score-his-sides-second-try Nelson played for Ulster 60 times before leaving at the end of last season. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Fascinatingly, Nelson wasn’t the only man with Dungannon links who was playing last night. All Blacks prop Angus Ta’avao spent a gap year at Royal School Dungannon in 2008 and still has friends in the County Tyrone town.

Next up for Canada is the daunting task of taking on South Africa in Kobe on Tuesday before they close their Pool B campaign against Namibia on Sunday 13 October in Kamaishi.

Nelson is keen for his team to learn from their shortcomings against the All Blacks.

“There were aspects of the game where we put them under pressure,” he said. “Unfortunately, we didn’t come up with points. There were aspects of our defence where there were good periods. We competed and we put them under pressure.

“We were in their half for quite a bit in that first half and just didn’t really capitalise. In a game like this, you have to take some sort of positives out of it. We’re playing the best team in the world. They’re world champions and you’re only going to learn from that.”

Nelson’s club future is yet to be confirmed but it is certainly a thrilling time in his career as the World Cup rolls on.

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About the author:

Murray Kinsella

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