By David Williams
Wales scrum-half Rhys Webb has revealed why he has been burning the midnight oil to help the National Health Service during the coronavirus crisis.
Webb has been working regular night shifts for Vale of Glamorgan-based company TJ Morgan, who make PPE (personal protective equipment) masks for the NHS.
Rugby has come to a stop during the global pandemic and the 31-year-old British and Irish Lions star has explained the motive to work on a production line.
“My sister is working as a nurse at the Princess of Wales Hospital in Bridgend,” Webb said.
“Seeing the amount of work she’s getting through at the moment, anything I can do to help is easy for me.
“One of my mates is involved with a company making PPE masks and they needed someone to work night shifts because they had to reach a certain target.
“I enjoy doing it so I sleep an hour in the day, go to work about 8pm and come back about 8am.”
TJ Morgan’s masks are part of the huge visor-making operation that the Royal Mint has put in place during the current health crisis.
A special shout-out to our very own Rhys Webb who is helping a friend’s company make PPE for the NHS.
And a shout-out to his sister who is working as a nurse at the Princess of Wales Hospital in Bridgend.
— Bath Rugby #StayHome (@bathrugby) May 1, 2020
The Royal Mint, which is more commonly known for making coins and investment products, hopes to manufacture nearly two million medical visors to help protect NHS staff.
“We start the process, making basic plastic masks at the beginning of it,” Webb said.
“They get shipped on to Royal Mint, and they ship it on to the NHS. I think the first couple of shifts I did were 12 hours but we got through about 3,500 masks.
“At 2am or 3am, the eyes were getting a bit heavy but seeing the pile get lower and lower made me think ‘Come on we can do this’.”
Bridgend-born Webb had only just returned to British rugby before the pandemic struck, signing a short-term deal with Bath in February after his stay in Toulon had turned sour.
After winning 33 caps for Wales and two for the Lions in 2017, he is due to return to the Ospreys – the region where he played over 150 games before leaving for France in 2018 – next season.
Webb’s French exile meant he would not feature for Wales for more than two years as Gareth Davies and Tomos Williams fought over the number nine jersey.
But he was part of Wayne Pivac’s 2020 Six Nations squad before the Championship was halted in March, and he is determined to re-establish himself as Wales’ premier scrum-half.
— Phil Blanche (@philblanche) April 30, 2020
A second Lions tour to South Africa in 2021 is also on his agenda, with Webb having impressed in the 2017 drawn series in New Zealand.
He said: “That’s the end goal of mine, to get on another Lions tour.
“I was chuffed to be back in the (Wales) mix. I needed to work hard and prove what I could do.
“I know there’s a lot of hard work to go to get there and I need a good run of games, stay fit and put my hand up for selection.
“There’s plenty more to come from me.”