Teen sensation Louis Rees-Zammit handed Wales call-up
Gloucester starlet Louis Rees-Zammit is one of five uncapped players named in Wayne Pivac’s Wales squad for the upcoming Six Nations Championship.
Saracens centre Nick Tompkins, who was born and raised in England and represented their U20 side, is called up, while prop WillGriff John, second-row Will Rowlands and back three player Johnny McNicholl are also in the 38-man group.
There is a recall for scrum-half Rhys Webb, who last played Test rugby just over two years ago before joining French club Toulon. That ruled him out of Wales contention because he did not meet the minimum 60-cap selection criteria for players plying their trade outside the country.
Tompkins, 24, represented England Saxons in 2016 and is an England U20 World Cup winner, but he qualifies for Wales through his Wrexham-born grandmother.
Despite Tompkins playing for the Saxons, he was not ‘captured’ by England because their opposition – South Africa A – were not South Africa’s officially recognised international second team at that time.
He will give coach Wayne Pivac an additional midfield option, with Scarlets centre Jonathan Davies sidelined for the entire Six Nations due to injury and Ospreys’ Owen Watkin recovering from a knee problem.
Watkin is named in the squad, along with Scarlets-bound Saracens back Liam Williams, who has not played since suffering an ankle injury during the World Cup.
Rees-Zammit, meanwhile, has lit up English rugby this season, scoring nine tries across 10 games for his club.
And that blistering form has attracted Pivac’s attention, with the New Zealander naming a 38-man squad for his first campaign since succeeding Warren Gatland.
Sets up the first @gloucesterrugby try, scores the second!— Rugby on BT Sport (@btsportrugby) January 11, 2020
We'll say it again, Louis Rees-Zammit is a GAMECHANGER 🔥
A perfect finish in the corner, and how about that tap pass from Jason Woodward?!#HeinekenChampionsCup pic.twitter.com/0otRMyshuI
Tighthead John, 27, is rewarded for consistent form in Sale colours, although Rowlands is more of a surprise selection, while McNicholl started Wales’ non-cap game against the Barbarians in November.
Elsewhere, fit-again Bath number eight Taulupe Faletau – who missed the World Cup due to a collarbone injury – is back, along with recalled Gloucester back Owen Williams, but there are no places for props Nicky Smith and Samson Lee.