By Steffan Thomas
Louis Rees-Zammit has been backed to keep pace with South African superstar Cheslin Kolbe when they meet on the Lions tour this summer.
Rees-Zammit enjoyed a sensational season with Wales that climaxed with the Gloucester wing earning a place in the British and Irish Lions squad to face the Springboks in three Tests.
It will be the ultimate challenge for the 20-year-old, especially if he goes head-to-head with Kolbe, the spring-heeled speedster who made England look slow and second-rate in the 2019 World Cup final.
Tonderai Chavhanga won four caps for the Springboks and famously recorded a time of 10.2 seconds over 100 metres.
The former Stormers and Dragons wing believes Rees-Zammit will thrive on the hard grounds of South Africa – even against Kolbe.
“It’s very difficult to prepare to face Cheslin Kolbe because I don’t even think he knows where he’s going to step,” said Chavhanga.
“His feet have got a mind of their own. I think Louis has proven that he’s worth his place in the squad because he’s performed consistently well for Wales.
“I think going on his Six Nations form he can certainly do it against Kolbe. It is going to be a great contest and he’s a phenomenal talent.
“I love the way Louis plays and I think he’ll bring the x-factor the Lions need. Playing in the High Veldt will be a perfect running track for Louis to express himself.”
Chavhanga has urged Warren Gatland to select the Gloucester star in his Test side and believes he should be joined in the back-three by Stuart Hogg and Anthony Watson.
But Chavhanga believes the Springboks still hold the upper hand behind the scrum.
He said: “I’d select Stuart Hogg at 15, with Anthony Watson and Ress-Zammit on the wings. I really like Anthony Watson because he can play wing and full back and is excellent under the high ball.
“I think the Lions need to be wary of focusing too much on Kolbe because Makazole Mapimpi is just as dangerous.
“If you look at Mapimpi’s strike rate, how many tries he scores and his ability to beat men one on one, he makes the most of whatever ball he gets. Willie Le Roux was also one of our stars in the World Cup final.
“He slots in as an extra playmaker and he more often than not makes very good decisions.
“I think that combination between Cheslin Kolbe, Mapimpi and Le Roux is one that has worked well for South Africa.”