Louis Rees-Zammit Wales

NANTES, FRANCE - OCTOBER 07: Louis Rees-Zammit of Wales celebrates after the Rugby World Cup France 2023 match between Wales and Georgia at Stade de la Beaujoire on October 07, 2023 in Nantes, France. (Photo by Paul Harding/Getty Images)

Louis Rees-Zammit Aims To Stand On Top Of The World

Dragon Bet image 2

By David Williams

Louis Rees-Zammit is firmly in the frame to emulate his Wales colleague Josh Adams as top try-scorer at a Rugby World Cup.

But Gloucester wing Rees-Zammit says that team success is the “end goal” as Wales build towards a World Cup quarter-final against Argentina in Marseille next Saturday.

Rees-Zammit’s hat-trick during the 43-19 Pool C victory over Georgia took him to five in the tournament, one behind France star Damian Penaud.

Adams, meanwhile, led the way in Japan four years ago, claiming seven tries and finishing one short of equalling the record for most touchdowns during one World Cup that is jointly held by Jonah Lomu, Bryan Habana and Julian Savea.

Rees-Zammit became the seventh Welshman to score three tries in a World Cup game after Adams, Glen Webbe, Ieuan Evans, Gareth Thomas, Scott Williams and Cory Allen.

It was another exhibition of the 22-year-old’s dazzling finishing skills and why he is among the biggest box-office attractions in world rugby.

“It (World Cup leading try-scorer) is something that is in the back of my head, but getting the wins is all that matters,” he said.

“I would love to be top try-scorer. As long as we win all the matches, that is the end goal. I am buzzing with the result – we are building nice momentum going into the quarter-finals.

“I am definitely a quicker player now. I am a lot fitter as well, which means I can repeat these things.

“I know Gats (Wales head coach Warren Gatland) has spoken about my training schedule.

“I haven’t missed training for a couple of months now, which is great. I am buzzing with the way I am playing at the minute – I am trying to do everything I can to help the team.”

Wales assistant coach and attack specialist Alex King fully acknowledges Rees-Zammit’s value ahead of a fourth successive World Cup quarter-final appearance.

Rees-Zammit was the only Wales back to start all four group games and he scored tries in three of those against Fiji, Portugal and Georgia.

King said: “We are lucky to have a player like Louis. It’s great for rugby to have these kind of stars with finishing power like that.

“He is a fantastic athlete, he is quick and his game has really come on in the last 12 months.

“It’s his mindset, his attitude, his professionalism, everything you need to be a top player.

“He is still very young, he has got 30-odd caps for Wales, he has been on a British and Irish Lions tour and he just wants to get better and better.

“We want to get the ball to Louis, but it is not as simple as just giving him the ball. Defences are very good.

“His attitude has been first class. He wants to get better and better every day he turns up to work. He was great (against Georgia) and I am looking forward to Marseille next week.”

Scarlets scrum-half Kieran Hardy has been called into Wales’ World Cup squad.

Number eight Taulupe Faletau was ruled out of the remainder of the tournament after suffering a broken arm during Wales’ victory over Georgia on Saturday.

But Wales feel they have enough existing back-row options to cover Faletau’s absence and Hardy, who will join the squad in Versailles on Sunday night, will increase scrum-half resources alongside Gareth Davies and Tomos Williams.

Wales head coach Warren Gatland said: “We feel we have a number of options in the back row at the moment, so we’ve decided to call up Kieran to give us extra cover at scrum-half and to take some pressure off from a training perspective.”

Hardy was left out of Wales’ initial World Cup squad after Gatland opted to select only two scrum-halves in Davies and Williams.

Wales assistant coach Jonathan Humphreys admits Wales’ mood after topping their World Cup group with an unbeaten record has been tempered by injuries to Faletau and Gareth Anscombe.

Fly-half Anscombe withdrew 45 minutes before kick-off against Georgia in Nantes due to a groin injury.

In terms of replacing Faletau against quarter-final opponents Argentina next Saturday, Aaron Wainwright is likely to switch across the back-row from blindside flanker.

Full-back Liam Williams was on crutches after the Georgia game following a blow to his knee but, while he could miss training in the early part of this week, Wales are hopeful about his quarter-final prospects.

“It is a big loss, he is a true world-class player,” Wales forwards specialist Humphreys said of Faletau.

“He is great around the place, but in a tournament these things happen and we have been very lucky in terms of the amount of injuries that we’ve had.

“But it still doesn’t detract from the loss of him. We will have a look over the next 24-48 hours (about a replacement) and make a decision then.

“You can’t replace what Toby (Faletau) gives, in terms of his intelligence and what he does, how he always turns up at the right place and makes the right decision at the right time.

“There is a huge onus now on everybody else to bring more.

“We are delighted that we topped the group, but then when you have close members of the squad who have been injured you are clearly down about that. It affects the mood.

“It is a tough one for Toby, but hopefully Gareth won’t be too long. He felt something in the warm-up and (we) made the decision not to play him. We will know over the next 36 hours what his chances are.”

If Wainwright moves positions, the vacancy at blindside flanker could mean a recall for seasoned campaigner Dan Lydiate, while Exeter’s Christ Tshiunza is also an option, along with switching captain Jac Morgan from openside and handing Tommy Reffell the number seven shirt.

Dragon Bet image 2

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.