George North and Louis Rees-Zammit might be at opposite ends of the Test rugby spectrum – but Wales star Justin Tipuric says he understands why people have “put them in the same bracket”.


North is set to win his 92nd cap in Saturday’s Guinness Six Nations opener between Wales and Italy in Cardiff.

He also requires just one try to register his 40th for Wales and move to equal second on the all-time list alongside Gareth Thomas.

Rees-Zammit, in contrast, has yet to make a Wales debut, but he will join North’s membership of an exclusive club if he features against the Azzurri.

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North was just 18 years and 214 days when he scored two tries on his first Wales appearance in November 2010 against South Africa.

And Rees-Zammit would emulate that age feat, should he run out at the Principality Stadium one day before his 19th birthday.

A place in Wales’ matchday 23 this weekend could be within grasp for Rees-Zammit, who has scored 10 tries in just 12 games for his club Gloucester this season.

Such blistering form earned him a place in head coach Wayne Pivac’s Six Nations squad, and he has continued to impress during training.


“When someone said the other day he (Rees-Zammit) was born in 2001, I nearly fainted!” Wales flanker Tipuric said.

“It made me feel old, that’s for sure, but he is very talented, and one thing you can say for sure is he’s got it in bundles.

“You can see it on the pitch. You don’t want to give him too much room, because he will make you look stupid. I am sure we will see a lot more of him soon.

“I would never have said he was 18, and he is a big boy, that’s for sure.

“I guess there is a lot of talk about that (Rees-Zammit and North) with the size they both are.

“They both have speed and talent, so I can understand why people have put them in the same bracket.”

Pivac will name his team to face Italy on Thursday, with North potentially poised for just a fifth Wales start in the centre as replacement for an injured Jonathan Davies.

Should that happen, then it opens up a wing berth, with uncapped pair Rees-Zammit and Johnny McNicholl seemingly in the frame.

Wales are unbeaten in the Six Nations for almost two years, and the reigning Grand Slam champions are looking to make an immediate statement under Warren Gatland’s successor Pivac and a new-look coaching team.

Wing Josh Adams said: “We’ve hit the ground running, we are looking sharp and there are smiles on faces.

“It’s always exciting leading into that first game. It’s great that we are at home as well. We’re buzzing to get out there.

“The foundations Warren Gatland and the other coaches built were fantastic and we had great success. The new guys have added their part to it.

“I would like to think we are developing our game.

“We won’t be the perfect team come Saturday, but I definitely think we will put teams under a lot of pressure and hopefully it will be exciting to watch.”

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