There have been two moments in the last week which have shown just how far new Wales international Mason Grady has come in such a short space of time.
The first came last Sunday, when Grady’s mother Julie posted two pictures of her son with Wales head coach Warren Gatland on social media.
Image No 1 showed Julie and Grady with Gatland back in 2013 on the day her other son Cory Allen made his Wales debut.
The second, 10 years later, contained the same three people but came after Grady had followed Allen into Test rugby by playing against England. The pictures, taken a decade apart, quickly went viral on social media.
Then, last week, the 20-year-old Grady showed just how young he is compared to his current Wales team-mates when appearing before the media to reflect on his first cap.
Wales centre Mason Grady (second right), 20, has come a very long way in a very short time
Grady’s mother Julie posted two pictures of her son with Wales head coach Warren Gatland on social media, the first back in 2013 on the day her other son Cory Allen made his Wales debut
The second image showed the same three 10 years later after Mason’s debut against England
‘It’s great to be learning from the likes of George North and Dan Biggar,’ said promising Cardiff talent Grady.
‘I watched them all as a kid and I can remember playing the 2011 World Cup video game and playing with all those (players). I just passed it to Shane Williams and let him run around everyone.’
Grady added: ‘It feels like only yesterday that picture of me and my mum at the stadium watching my brother making his debut was taken. It’s pretty mad seeing those pictures now.
‘All the family were immensely proud being there to watch me win my first cap. I had about 15 family members there.’
In a Six Nations which has been dominated by three straight losses and all manner of off-field chaos, there has not been much to cheer about for Welsh rugby supporters.
But one positive has been the emergence of promising youngsters Jac Morgan, Tommy Reffell, Christ Tshiunza, Dafydd Jenkins, Joe Hawkins and Grady who have all tasted Championship experience.
In their defeat against England, Wales fielded Hawkins and Grady, both 20, as their midfield pairing. All five players have come through the Wales age group system.
Only last season, Tshiunza, Jenkins, Hawkins and Grady were Under-20 internationals. Their progression to senior level has been swift.
Grady said it was a privilege learning from the likes of experienced fly-half Dan Biggar (left)
There has not been much to cheer about for Welsh rugby fans during this Six Nations but the emergence of young players like Grady, Jac Morgan and Christ Tshiunza is a rare bright spot
Against England, Grady formed a promising centre partnership with Joe Hawkins (left), also 20
‘There was a moment when Joe, Christ, Dafydd and I sat around and said it would be amazing to play in the next World Cup,’ said Grady.
‘To then play in the Six Nations before the World Cup with those boys is pretty mad. Getting a cap with them was amazing. I definitely want more caps and to build from here.
‘I didn’t expect it to happen so soon. To be honest, I just wanted to get myself in the Cardiff team. I don’t know if I’ll play against either Italy or France.
‘My debut was pretty surreal. I was pretty disappointed with the result, but proud to get my first cap. It was an unbelievable experience running out in front of 74,000 people – a dream come true. I’d love to experience it all again.’
Like his half-brother Allen, who won six Wales caps and scored a hat-trick against Uruguay at the 2015 World Cup, Grady is blessed with size. At a hulking 6ft 5in and 17st 4lb, he is a fearsome physical specimen.
Grady’s giant frame is eerily reminiscent of North’s, who hasn’t done too badly.
This is Grady’s first full season at senior level after a serious knee injury hampered his development but he will surely improve further the more time he spends with Cardiff and Wales.
His international head coach Gatland has little choice other than to continue to give youth its chance and the likes of Grady are set to get another opportunity to impress against Italy on Saturday.
Wales will travel to Rome knowing defeat by the Azzurri would likely consign them to finishing bottom of the Six Nations pile for 2023 with France in Paris their final fixture.