2019 World Cup
Hosts: Japan Dates: 20 September to 2 November
Coverage: Full commentary on every game across BBC Radio 5 Live and Radio 5 Live Sports Extra, plus text updates on the BBC Sport website and app.

It is no wonder Peter Nelson describes the last few months as “a whirlwind”.

Released by his home club Ulster in the summer, he absorbed the blow and like all good fly-halves, got his head up and coolly surveyed his options.

A former Ireland Under-20 fly-half, Nelson was always aware he qualified for through his grandmother.

Three months on from being left without a club, he will play against world champions New Zealand in a World Cup clash on Wednesday.

“It’s crazy and just very, very exciting because to play the best in the world and test yourself against the best players in the world is what you want to do,” Nelson said.

“I had been in contact with [ head coach] Kingsley Jones a few times over the course of a couple of months and we just got chatting. He was keen to get me over, thankfully.

“I came over in mid-June and started training with the guys. We had the Pacific Nations Cup so we were in America and Fiji for a couple of weeks, then played Leinster in Toronto.

“It has been some journey and I’m incredibly grateful to Canada for the opportunity I’ve been given out here.

“We’ve all watched the All Blacks for years and to get a chance to play against them is amazing, it’s something you dream of. Certainly I did as a kid watching rugby and watching World Cups.”

Peter Nelson started Canada's opening match at the 2019 Rugby World Cup against Italy

Sadly, Nelson’s grandmother passed away earlier this year and did not get to see her grandson play for the land of her birth.

“She was born in Toronto and moved to Ireland when she was seven or eight, she always planned to go back to Canada but it never came about,” he says.

“My granny always spoke about Canada but when I was at Ulster my full focus was there so it wasn’t really an option at that stage. Moving on, it was something I wanted to look into.

“It’s been all go and an awesome few months. Now I’m at the World Cup and it’s a dream come true.

“I just want to put my best foot forward for Canada and the guys are all really excited. It’s not every day you get to play the world champions at a World Cup.

“I want to make the most of it and enjoy every minute. I’m sure it is something in years to come I’ll look back on with huge fondness and great memories.”

Nelson, 26, spent eight years at Ulster but is not bitter at how things worked out.

He insisted: “It’s professional sport, you’re never guaranteed your job. It was more just disappointment that I was leaving”.

“I am very proud to have played for Ulster as many times as I did. I have a lot of great memories, made a lot of great friends and played in a lot of great games.”

After eight years at Ulster, Peter Nelson will be on the lookout for a new club after the Rugby World Cup

Nelson’s parents, his girlfriend and an aunt and uncle have travelled to Japan to support and applaud his every step, but when Canada’s World Cup adventure comes to an end, the future is uncertain.

He still does not have a club lined up but could not ask for a bigger or better shop window to find himself in.

For now, he is fully immersed in taking on New Zealand and South Africa in back-to-back pool games.

“It doesn’t get any better than that, does it?

“Just being over here in Japan, it’s so culturally different and the buzz around the country is amazing.

“Against Italy the atmosphere was incredible and everywhere we’ve gone the Japanese have been so good to us.

“We were disappointed how the game got away from us against Italy. We created a lot of opportunities and just didn’t finish some of them but the guys are buzzing about the challenge in front of us.”


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