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Where Warren Gatland's Wales are poised to do the most damage

The best single unit in the Wales side is the formidable back row.

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Rees-Zammit calls Pivac to put name in hat for new position

By Stefan Frost
(Photo by Ian Cook - CameraSport via Getty Images)

Wayne Pivac has revealed Louis Rees-Zammit admitted over a phone call he would be willing to play at full-back for Wales.

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The Gloucester flyer has featured on the wing for the majority of his professional career and has worn the 15 jersey on a few occasions at club level.

His eagerness to fill the role may be granted, with Wales experiencing a crisis of sorts with their starting back three. International stalwart Liam Williams will not be available for the entirety of the Autumn Internationals after he picked up a serious shoulder injury in his debut for Cardiff against Munster at the start of the season.

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He is undergoing collarbone surgery and is not the only back facing a stint on the side-line.
The fitness of Leigh Halfpenny, Josh Adams and Alex Cuthbert is also fairly foggy, which could give Rees-Zammit the chance to showcase his back-three versatility.

“We have…opportunities to look at the likes of Josh Adams, who’s played full-back for the Lions, while Louis Rees-Zammit has played there for his club. He’s picked the phone up and said: ‘You do know I can play 15?’” Pivac told the BBC’s Scrum V podcast.

“So we have guys here who are keen to give it a go if called upon.”

However, Adams’ availability is now a cause for concern, after the Cardiff winger underwent scans on a hand injury sustained in his side’s victory over provincial rivals Dragons.

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The medical assessment revealed Adams had chipped bone in his thumb, meaning he is a doubt for Wales’ opener against New Zealand on November 5th.

Cardiff boss David Young has said Adams could be out for two to four weeks. This could mean the 27-year-old also misses the second autumn Test against Argentina.

“It doesn’t need fixing or anything like that. He hasn’t got a splint or a cast on it, it’s just basically down to pain management after about two weeks,” Young said.

He added that the Welsh camp’s medical team were now responsible for assessing whether Adams was match-ready.

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Pivac’s injury woes are further deepened by the situation surrounding Alex Cuthbert. The Ospreys talisman has been enjoying a rejuvenated international career but could face a setback, having picked up a shoulder injury in the second Test against South Africa in the summer. He is yet to play this season, despite being named in the Wales squad for this autumn.

Attention then turns to the 96-cap Leigh Halfpenny who has been a mainstay of the Welsh backfield for the past decade. He is the only remaining specialist 15 but unfortunately the Scarlets star is also struggling for fitness, after pulling out of his side’s Friday night match against Connacht with a tight hamstring.

However, early updates seem to indicate the withdrawal was precautionary rather than necessary which will rest easy with Pivac who is acutely aware of the skillset Halfpenny brings to the team.

“A lot of teams are going to the air and the aerial game is a big part of it. Repeatability. Positional play has to be there. A big part of it is when you want to move ball you have to retain ball,” Pivac said.

“Leigh Halfpenny’s one of the best in the game in the wide channels, the dark arts of securing possession, looking after the ball. He does the simple things really, really well.”

But with Halfpenny still an indefinite, the pathway for Rees-Zammit to feature at full-back remains open.

Other back-three alternatives include George North, who has made the transition to the centre in recent years, and Rio Dyer, the uncapped Dragons winger who has already caught Pivac’s eye.

“Rio is a player that has grown in stature over the last 12 months,” Pivac admitted.

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