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Wales To Raid England For My Sarries Star, Says Mark McCall

Saracens chief Mark McCall expects Wales to conduct a cross border raid by including his centre Nick Tompkins in their Six Nations squad.

McCall has revealed that Wales coach Wayne Pivac has been alerted to Tompkins’ availability and the 24-year-old Sarries and former England U20 star is set to be named in Pivac’s squad for the tournament when it is announced on Wednesday.

Pivac has a dilemma at outside centre since Jonathan Davies, Owen Watkin and Willis Halaholo are all injured – leaving a gap to be filled for the opening fixture against Italy on February 1.

McCall, said: “I think Nick Tompkins is on Wales’s radar.

“I didn’t know he was Welsh until a couple of months ago, but good for him because Nick’s played really well this season and Wales have got some issues in the centres at the moment.

“Nick might have an opportunity to play in this Six Nations, which would be fantastic for him.’

Tompkins has been a Saracens regular this season and made two appearances for England’s A-team – the Saxons – in 2016.

But that did not commit him to the red rose as the fixtures were not against recognised A team opposition.

He played in the England Under 20 team, captained by club-mate Maro Itoje, which won the global age-group title in 2014, but he qualifies for Wales through a maternal grandmother, Enid, who was born in Wrexham in 1933.

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Teenage Gloucester wing Louis Rees-Zammit is also in line to be named in Pivac’s squad. The 18-year-old has lit up English rugby this season, scoring nine tries in 10 games for his club.

That blistering form has attracted Pivac’s attention as he prepares for his first tournament squad since taking over from Warren Gatland.

Rees-Zammit, who was born in Penarth, has claimed six touchdowns in his last three Gloucester appearances, including a hat-trick against Northampton.

He has already been rewarded with a long-term club contract after developing at a startling pace through Gloucester’s academy, and he has spoken about his dream to represent Wales.

If he features against opening Six Nations opponents Italy in Cardiff on February 1st, he would join an elite band of 18-year-olds to play for Wales, including George North and Tom Prydie.

Rees-Zammit will turn 19 the day after that match, which will be Wales’ first Six Nations Test under Pivac and his new coaching team.

Speaking earlier this week, Gloucester head coach Johan Ackermann said: “For his young age, Louis has a very mature attitude, a willingness to work hard and a commitment to rugby.

“If he stays humble and stays hungry to improve, I have no doubt that he has an extremely promising career ahead of him.”

And Gloucester rugby director David Humphreys added: “Louis has had an amazing start to his professional rugby career.

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“Not many 18-year-old academy players get an opportunity to play regular Premiership and Champions Cup, but Louis has taken his chance and become a regular member of the matchday squad over the last few months.”

While Rees-Zammit prepares for a potential first taste of the senior international environment, Pivac’s squad is also likely to include many familiar faces.

Bath No.8 Taulupe Faletau is poised to return, having missed the World Cup in Japan because of a collarbone injury.

It was another cruel injury setback for the 29-year-old, who has won 72 caps, but not played Test rugby since March 2018.

It is more than two years since scrum-half Rhys Webb pulled on a Wales shirt, having joined French giants Toulon and ruled himself out of Test selection because he did not meet the minimum 60-cap requirement required for players plying their trade outside the country.

Toulon recently agreed to Webb’s early release from his contract for family reasons, and he will rejoin the Ospreys next term.

He was originally eligible for Wales again from July 1st, but the Welsh Rugby Union announced that the Professional Rugby Board (PRB) had agreed to an application from Webb for a six-month dispensation, during which time Pivac can consider him.

The PRB comprises representatives from each of the five professional entities in Welsh rugby – its four regions, the Scarlets, Ospreys, Cardiff Blues and Dragons, plus the WRU – and shares responsibility for running the professional game.

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Webb, if selected, would enhance already strong scrum-half options for Pivac, given the impressive World Cup contributions made by Gareth Davies and Tomos Williams.

Pivac will be without the likes of long-term injured pair Jonathan Davies and Gareth Anscombe, while Scarlets-bound Saracens back Liam Williams has not played since suffering an ankle injury at the World Cup.

Uncapped Sale Sharks prop Will-Griff John is thought to be among the front-row candidates.


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