Not since the amateur days has a Grand Slam match-winner boasted such a meagre salary. In a revelation which should stun all of football's young multi-millionaires, Alex Cuthbert, Wales's try-scorer, is on £5,000 with his club. That's £5,000 a year, not a week.
To supplement his earnings with the Blues, Cuthbert is guaranteed £14,000 a year direct from the Welsh Rugby Union because of a contract with the sevens side. The 21-year-old lives in student digs in the capital and drives around in a battered Renault Clio. Yet all this is about to change due to his extraordinary emergence in the Six Nations.
For starters, Cuthbert will pocket the £85,000 which comprises his appearance fees and Grand Slam bonus. Then he will enter contract negotiations with the Blues as they try to repel the interest from English clubs, two of whom have apparently already come calling. Cuthbert will soon be earning well in excess of £100,000 a year and looking back on five games which changed his life.
Cuthbert was born and raised in Gloucester, but qualifies through his Welsh mother, Caroline. Signed on a development contract, Cuthbert, a former striker with Gloucester City, did not expect to gain anything greater than experience this campaign. "It's crazy how much everything has changed in such a short time," he said. "I could never have thought I would be scoring the winning try in a Grand Slam game six months ago. I was just expecting to train with the Blues' seniors. In terms of money and contracts it is life-changing. I will have to pay off my student loan and maybe try to buy a house."
The car he receives so much stick for from the rest of the squad will stay and act as a reminder of how far he has travelled in such a short time. Cuthbert, who is on the shortlist for the Six Nations player of the tournament, believes this is only the start of the adventure.
"There is still a huge amount of development and learning to come from both the team and, of course, myself. Being in the Welsh environment has already upped my game, playing with world-class players like George [North]. I do look up to George – even though he is only 19. We are still so young, as are many of the boys. As the years go by, we can only get better."