Mason exposed in rugby union debut - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Mason exposed in rugby union debut

Tom Wald 30/05/2011 12:29:54 PM Comments (0)

Willie Mason was spot on.

He said he was taking himself out of his comfort zone by agreeing to start his switch to rugby union in the Barbarians' match against England at Twickenham on Sunday.

And that proved the case.

The 31-year-old has not played a rugby union match since his school days and his technical shortcomings were exposed in his 15-minute cameo against an inexperienced England line-up.

Mason enjoyed a winning return to the 15-a-side game in a last-gasp 38-32 victory but his quarter of an hour on the field showed he has a long way to go to make his code switch a success.

The former NRL star came off the bench in the 65th minute to play alongside the likes of Wallabies great George Smith, Springboks star Ruan Pienaar and mercurial French playmaker Frederic Michalak.

The former Kangaroo, who recently signed a deal with cashed-up French club Toulon, was clearly eager to get involved as much as he could after slotting in at inside centre.

Mason, who recently parted ways with Super League club Hull KR, barked out orders to his new teammates but his lack of awareness cost his side in the 72nd minute.

The former Bulldogs, Sydney Roosters and North Queensland enforcer needlessly committed himself to a breakdown near his team's line, his decision allowing room for England back-rower Tom Johnson to loop around and cross for a try.

Mason had a couple of runs with the English defence enjoying his upright running style, forcing a turnover from him in the 77th minute.

Mason, who flirted with swapping codes on several occasions during his NRL career, signed a one-year deal at Toulon this month with an option for another.

It is believed the French rugby giants signed him up to play in the centres and make a similar impact as his former NRL teammate Sonny Bill Williams.

However such expectations would appear to be grossly unfair on Mason.

He is five years older and not nearly as dynamic an athlete as the richly-gifted Williams.

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