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Anscombe in crucial stage of his career

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    13 Dec 2018     Getty Images

Cardiff are facing Saracens in a Cup home and away series and that will pit Anscombe against England five-eighths Owen Farrell. Saracens won the first leg at home at the weekend 51-25 but are looking to turn things around in the return game at Cardiff Arms Park on Sunday (NZT).

Former Wales wing Shane Williams believes that after Anscombe's breakthrough campaign at first five-eighths for Wales in the November Tests, facing Farrell over the two games is a big test of his future.

"That will be a massive learning experience for him because, while I'm a huge fan of Gareth's, he's not yet the finished article," Williams said in his Rugby Paper column.

"Going up against Farrell will be a stiff test for him. For me, Owen is one of the best backs in world rugby. He has everything; speed, skill, size, and he's an excellent communicator and born leader. He can also tackle – when he uses his arms!"

Williams felt Anscombe could learn some lessons on communication and leadership from Farrell and he was looking forward to the battle between the pair.

"The thing with Gareth right now is his confidence is sky high. How can it not be after his best stint with Wales to date last month? It's the perfect time for him to duel with Owen," he said.

Williams said Anscombe was an out-and-out first five-eighths and Wales couldn't afford to mess around with a player of his calibre. He was wary of Anscombe avoiding what happened to teammates from his own era when James Hook and Gavin Henson were not given the chance to specialise where they felt most comfortable.

"Both those guys used to tell me on the quiet they only saw themselves as playmakers. It was unfortunate for them they didn't get the chance to do that," he said.

"Anscombe must play 10 long term now – certainly for the Blues – because to underuse his talent would be a crime with him entering the best stage of his career.

"Gareth can be anything he wants to be moving forwards and if he learns from Farrell in the next fortnight, then that certainly won't hurt," he said.