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RUGBY UNION: IESTYN'S IN WRITE AWAY.

Byline: PAUL WILLIAMS

IESTYN HARRIS had hardly put the pen down yesterday when he got his Wales call-up!

But pounds 2m Harris, Welsh rugby history's most expensive player, warned: Give me 12 months to prove myself.

Wales coach Graham Henry hopes it won't take that long - and invited the Great Britain stand-off to meet the national squad when he officially becomes a Cardiff player next month. Henry, triumphant at the capture of 25-year-old Harris from Leeds Rhinos following a year of negotiations, predicted he would be a big hit.

"Iestyn may not have played a game of union in his life, but he is a pedigree player and they will always adapt," said Henry.

"I am delighted he will be available to the national selectors, but I do not want to put any pressure on him. He must be allowed time to adapt to the game.

"He will be invited to the national squad sessions next month, but whether he will be in the frame for November's international against Tonga is something we do not know yet.

"Iestyn knows Clive Griffiths (Wales's defence coach) very well and he is close mates with Jonathan Davies. They will both play a big part in helping him settle.

"It is an exciting day for Welsh rugby. I do not know what Iestyn's best position will be - I guess he will start at full-back and then be tried out in the centre and outside half."

Wales first wooed Harris in the 1995 rugby league World Cup when he was 19 and it has taken them six years to land him.

"I told them then I would definitely play rugby union in Wales," revealed Harris.

"It was a question of when the timing was right and with the World Cup coming up in 2003, this was the moment. It is a big step for me and I know I will be under pressure.

"But if that was something which concerned me, I would not have made the move.

"I may never have played a game of rugby union, but I have regularly watched it and always wanted to play it."

Harris talked with his close mate, union and league legend Jonathan Davies, during the negotiations between the WRU and Leeds.

Cardiff have added Davies to their technical team, a move which will help Harris make the transition from the 13-a-side code.

"I have known Jonathan for the last seven years," said Harris. "I feel a bit like he must have done when he left Llanelli for Widnes in 1989.

"Many people said that he would never make it in league, that he was too small and could not tackle.

"It took him a year to find his feet, but he then became the best league player in the world.

"It will take me a good 12 months to prove myself in union. My aim is to make the Wales side, but my first priority will be to show I am worth a place in the Cardiff side."

Harris will become a Cardiff player on September 1, but his debut will be delayed another month as he recovers from a broken wrist.

CAPTION(S):

PART OF THE UNION: Iestyn Harris yesterday
COPYRIGHT 2001 MGN LTD
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2001 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Aug 11, 2001
Words:535
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