Louis Rees-Zammit has been backed to sprinkle the stardust of youth on the Six Nations if – as expected – he is named in Wayne Pivac’s Wales squad on Wednesday.
Rees-Zammit has been the talk of English club rugby this season and the 18-year-old was provoking more debate over the weekend as he scored one try and set up another for Gloucester as they beat Montpellier, 29-6, in the Heineken Champions Cup.
Pivac has already been to see Rees-Zammit for himself and may well be inclined to move quickly and name him in his first squad as Eddie Jones has reportedly approached Rees-Zammit about wearing the red rose of England, instead.
The Cardiff-born player, however, has made his Welsh allegiances clear and his Gloucester teammate Willi Heinz – who scored as a result of the wing’s set-up – reckons Rees-Zammit is ready for Test rugby.
Heinz said: “He was really good again, wasn’t he? The biggest compliment I can pay him at the moment is that he is very receptive to feedback from the coaches and some of the older players in his position.
“He seems to have a really level head. You can’t argue with the form he is in at the moment. I guess time will tell. All I know is that he is playing really good rugby and if he was to get an opportunity at that level, I’m sure he’d do a good job.”
Rees-Zammit – who left the Cardiff Blues academy to develop at renowned Hartpury College near Gloucester, instead – has already been named the Gallagher Premiership player of the month for December.
His faces stiff competition for a place in Pivac’s squad with George North, Josh Adams, Hallam Amos, Owen Lane, Johnny McNicholl and Steff Evans all bidding for wing slots.
But the problems at outside centre – where Wales are considering moving North or Adams towards, because of injuries to Jonathan Davies and Owen Watkin – have improved the teenager’s chances.
After another mature display, in which he scored Gloucester’s second try, Rees-Zammit earned the praise of the Cherry and Whites backs coach Tim Taylor.
“He is brilliant,” said Taylor.
“He is still really young, but the great thing with him is that he is always willing to learn and listen and he will go out and work hard on the training pitch which is great and is exactly what you want.”
Rees-Zammit’s try against Montpellier came on the back of scoring five Premiership tries in December which included a new record when he became the youngest player to score a hat-trick in a Premiership match.
Former England win Ugo Monye is another who believes Rees-Zammit has already showed a rare talent.
“You often look to your senior players for those contributions to change momentum but Louis is doing it at 18,” said Monye.
“It’s a winger’s job to score tries and he’s clearly doing that but to change the course of a match, that takes something really special, and he’s quite clearly got a very special talent.
premrugby: “It’s Louis Rees-Zammit! Who else?!” ⚡
An outstanding second half performance from gloucesterrugby secured a bonus point win against MHR_officiel on Saturday
— ItsAllRugby (@ItsAllRugby_com) January 13, 2020
“You see a lot of quick wingers that score tries, but you wonder if they’ve got an all-round game and an understanding of the game, but that’s something that he’s grasped in a very short period of time.
“For every supporter, not just Gloucester Rugby supporters, they get excited about watching him play, he’s an absolute pleasure and joy to watch.
“If he has the hunger to learn, and speaking to Gloucester Rugby players he’s a very coachable player, there’s no reason as to why his development won’t continue in a similar trajectory to what it is currently.
“He already looks ready-made at the age of 18 and I think he is showing all the hallmarks of what could be a promising career, not just at Gallagher Premiership Rugby level but potentially at international as well.”
Johan Ackermann promised Rees-Zammit and the rest of his Gloucester side would “give it their best shot” as they face a daunting must-win trip to Toulouse next weekend to have any chance of reaching the European Champions Cup quarter-finals.
Their bonus-point win over a weakened but spirited Montpellier at Kingsholm kept hopes alive but Toulouse are unbeaten, ensuring they will top Pool 5, and they beat Gloucester 25-20 at Kingsholm.