Corey Domachowski Has Gone From A No.10 To No.1 Number One For Wales Just In Time For The World Cup

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By David Williams

Corey Domachowski readily admits that any suggestion of playing prop as a schoolboy would fill him with dread.

A former centre and goalkicker at his local rugby club, a future in the front-row could not have been further from his mind.

But Domachowski is now preparing for his first World Cup as one of three loosehead props selected by Wales head coach Warren Gatland.

“I was playing for Rhondda Schools as a number six or eight, but Chris Jones (coach) was on at me for years to play prop,” he said.

“I would go home home to my mother and cry ‘I’m not going to play prop’.

“At my local club, Gilfach Goch, I always played number eight or centre and I also used to kick goals.

“I converted to prop in my first year of youth rugby at Gilfach. We didn’t have a loosehead, and we had some good players in the back row.

“I put a bit of weight on at the time, and I just wanted to play with the boys. It took off from there, really.

“It was probably the best decision of my life. I was a bit gutted I couldn’t kick at goal any more, but I am not an outside-half, centre or back-rower.

“But if we ever have a penalty goalkicking shoot-out, ‘Gats’ knows the score!”

Domachowski moved to Cardiff, making his debut against Glasgow in 2016, and a dominant display against European Challenge Cup opponents Sale Sharks last season thrust him into Gatland’s thoughts.

Barely a month later he was named in an extended World Cup training squad, and his Test debut followed when Wales took on opening warm-up opponents England at the Principality Stadium.

“I take myself back to the middle of last season and if someone had said I would be in this position now, I would have laughed in their face to be honest,” he added.

“I am not here to make up the numbers, and that is the same as everyone else. There is a lot of competition.

“We all know why we are here. We want the number one jersey.

“I have probably taken a lot from the first two caps (against England and South Africa), more than anything in the rest of my career.

“I was a bit frustrated from the England game where I felt we weren’t able to get the scrums we wanted. They probably played a bit smart, noticed we (Domachowski and his fellow Cardiff prop Keiron Assiratti) were both debutants, and used it to their advantage.

“Then we came up against the best pack in the world in South Africa, and I am not hiding away from the fact we came second-best. It was a big test, and we have just got to take learnings from it.”

Meanwhile, the bad news for Wales and every other World Cup hopeful is that South Africa are not reading too much into their record 35-7 victory over New Zealand in warm-up fixture at neutral Twickenham on Friday, their final outing before the defence of their title in France.

The Springboks ran in five tries to one to inflict a heaviest ever defeat on the All Blacks and dominated their rivals up front, but coach Jacques Nienaber said there was still room for improvement before they play Scotland in their World Cup opener in Marseille on Sept. 10.

The Boks bounced back from a 35-20 loss to New Zealand in Auckland in the Rugby Championship last month and showed they had learned the lessons from that defeat.

“After the last game against New Zealand we had to adjust a few things and we made some plans,” Nienaber said. “The players came with some good suggestions, and the coaches as well. We found some solutions, some worked and others didn’t.

“But ultimately we don’t get a single point at the World Cup for tonight. I think New Zealand will feel the same. It is what it is, an opportunity to prepare for France, nothing more than that.”

Nienaber felt his side’s execution in the opening 20 minutes, when they were camped in the All Blacks’ 22, could have been better.

“We had a lot of opportunities in the first 20 minutes. In the whole game we had eight (scoring) opportunities and were held up (over the try line) twice,” he said

“In the World Cup you get only four or five opportunities and you have to capitalise on them. That is something we will try and fix in the next two weeks.”

The Boks were boosted, in a way, by a piece of misfortune for replacement fullback Willie le Roux, who was injured in the warm-ups and replaced on the bench by mobile forward Kwagga Smith, giving South Africa an unprecedented 7-1 split between forwards and backs.

“Willie picked up a little niggle and we didn’t want to risk him for this game,” Nienaber said, admitting his side took a gamble in replacing him with Smith.

“The least risk for a bench is a 5-3 split to cover the most positions. 7-1 is a big risk, and we were fortunate tonight we did not get any backline injuries.

“It is something that we train for, with certain forwards to fulfill some roles in backline play. We have to plan for those scenarios with all the yellow cards that go around these days.”

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