Ben Purrington: Nephew of rugby star makes Plymouth impact

Ben Purrington

Teenager Ben Purrington has earned glowing praise from Plymouth Argyle boss John Sheridan - and his uncle, England rugby great Richard Hill - after breaking into the first team.

The 17-year-old made his debut against Oxford on Boxing Day and also started Sunday's 1-1 draw with Wimbledon.

"He's come into the side and played really well - I can't leave him out," Sheridan told BBC Radio Devon.

And Hill tweeted: "Allowed to be biased. Outstanding debut."

Left-back Purrington capped an accomplished display against the Dons with a sublime pass for Reuben Reid's equaliser and Sheridan confirmed he will keep his place in the side to face Devon rivals Torquay on New Year's Day.

"It was a brilliant ball in a dangerous area - it really was a great ball, and Reuben produced a great finish," said Sheridan.

"He's a confident kid - not in an overconfident way, but he's learning.

Neil Back, Lawrence Dallaglio and Richard Hill with the World Cup
Hill (right) was part of an all-conquering back row with Neil Back and Lawrence Dallaglio

"First-team football is totally different to youth team and reserve-team football. Full credit to him, he doesn't look phased and he'll be starting against Torquay, that's for sure."

Hill was a key member of England's 2003 Rugby World Cup-winning side alongside Martin Johnson, Jonny Wilkinson and Lawrence Dallaglio.

But the 40-year-old, who won 71 caps, has been transformed into a keen football fan as he follows the fortunes of his nephew, attending both of Purrington's first-team appearances over the Christmas period.

"Got to get a grip, watching more football than rugby at moment. Another assist for Baby Ben, Awesome ball," he tweeted after the Wimbledon game.

Purrington has been at Argyle since he was nine years old, and signed his first professional deal in May 2013.

Meanwhile, Sheridan said the impact of his substitutions was another pleasing aspect to the match, with Tope Obadeyi and Nathan Thomas both catching the eye late on.

"The subs gave us a bit of a spark," he said.

"I changed my system and went 3-5-2 to match them and we started getting on top of the game. Tope looked good - he's got a bit of pace and tempo about him, and Nathan's played his part.

"I think we deserved something for our second-half performance, but when you're 1-0 down with two minutes to go it's pleasing to get something from the game."