Young Wales rugby player reveals world star’s dressing room snub and how he managed to break his own nose

How a sportsman conducts himself after a game can speak volumes.

So let’s just say Ryan Elias had cause to be a shade underwhelmed by his post-match experience of Agustin Creevy earlier this summer.

Making only his second start for Wales, the Scarlet had been part of a side that had wrapped up a Test series success against Argentina, winning 30-12 in Santa Fe after taking the first game 23-10 a week earlier.

Elias and Creevy had both started the second match and afterwards the young Welshman sought out the much-respected Pumas captain.

The encounter didn’t go as expected.

In fact, it didn’t really go at all.

Creevy was apparently so disappointed with the way the events had unfolded on the pitch that he couldn’t make time for a 23-year-old who had taken the trouble to seek him out and show him respect after the match.

Elias says: “I went into the Argentina changing room as I wanted to swap jerseys with Creevy.

“But he was in the shower and I don’t think he was too pleased with the result, a week after losing the first Test.

“I don’t think he was too pleased with how everything went, so I guess he brushed me aside.”

To his credit, Elias still retains a positive view of the South American. “He’s a brilliant player,” he says.

“He’s quite a big man who is technically a good scrummager.

“We both started in the last Test and in the first half it was like a game of chess. I was trying to suss out what he was doing and there were things that I hadn’t come up against before.

“In the line-outs and the scrums, he’s one of the best.

“So it was really good to go up against him and test myself.”

It was a breakthrough tour for Elias. Elliot Dee deservedly attracted a lot of plaudits, but Elias also caught the eye with his physicality and dynamism.

At 6ft 2in and 17st 4lb, he boasts power and plays with an edge and would have impressed Warren Gatland with his commitment.

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The high point of his trip came when he was on hand to score the late, late try that secured victory for Wales over South Africa in Washington DC. Tomos Williams and Elias, the two players responsible for the touchdown, with Williams making a charge-down for Elias to do the honours, refused to accept that defeat was to be Wales’ lot on the day.

“It was a bit of a poacher’s try,” says Elias.

“South Africa were exiting but Tom Williams, our scrum-half, made a dart and managed to get his hand on the ball for the charge-down. I was lucky to be there, so I pounced on it.

“I’ll be telling my grand-kids I ran the length of the pitch and chipped the full-back.

“Overall, it was a good tour, playing South Africa and Argentina, two tough sides, and it was a good learning experience for me. The Argentina players and South Africans are renowned for being big boys and for playing a forward-orientated game.

“Getting three wins was huge for us.

“There were a lot of changes from game to game, but in each game we all played well.”

Ryan Elias shows off two black eyes in Buenos Aires

The tour contained a painful memory as well, with Elias smashing his nose against South Africa and having no one to blame but himself.

“It was quite funny,” he says.

“I went for a counter-ruck and against South Africa that was like running into a brick wall. So I ended up folding like a cardboard box, with my knee coming through and hitting me right in the nose.

“It wasn’t good.

“But it’s back straight now.

“The doctor did a good job.”

Elias is targeting a place at the next World Cup, but it promises to be a tight call at hooker, especially if Wales pick only two specialist No. 2s as they did for the global tournament in England in 2015.

Lions Test man Ken Owens is in pole position to travel, while Dee isn’t far behind after a strong campaign in 2017-18.

Elias is next cab off the rank at this point.

Ryan Elias receives treatment from Dr Geoff Davies

Is his cause being helped by being Owens’ deputy at the Scarlets? Does he consider it a positive, to be shadowing such an experienced player, or a negative, given the number of big games he spends on the bench?

Elias doesn’t need to spend too much time thinking. “It’s a plus to be competing with Ken,” he says.

“He’s one of the best hookers in the world, a British and Irish Lion and a good leader, so you are learning from the best.

“We are both from Carmarthen, went to the same school and the same rugby club.

“He calls me his apprentice.

“It’s good to learn off him. He has a lot of time for me and I have a lot of time for him.

“There’s a respect between us.”

Even so, Elias would not be human if he occasionally didn’t feel frustrated at filling the role of understudy.

But it has never encouraged him to consider leaving the Scarlets.

“No,” he says after the question is put to him, “I’m happy at the Scarlets.

“I think it works, the way things are going.

“Hopefully, I’ll get a bit more game-time and some bigger games this year.

“But it is what it is.

“Hopefully, it’ll be a case of change of guard when Ken wants to retire or whatever, and I’ll take his place.

“That’s the plan.”

Elias has his sights on the World Cup in Japan, but whether he makes the cut or not the best of the youngster is yet to come.

Watch this space.

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