Two players at completely different stages of their careers – Alun Wyn Jones and Louis Rees-Zammit – were the main talking points after the announcement of the Wales team to face France this weekend in Paris.
Wayne Pivac has opted for a strong squad, as has his French counterpart Fabien Galthie, for a match that will be friendly only in name.
Of all the familiar names in the Welsh starting XV, none are more recognisable than captain Jones, who is set to level Richie McCaw’s record haul of 148 Test caps on Saturday at the Stade de France.
However, it is his uncapped Wales teammate Rees-Zammit that has garnered the biggest reaction online. The 19-year-old Gloucester winger has been named on the bench and is poised to earn his first cap.
Perhaps it is because it was inevitable that Jones was going to match and eclipse McCaw’s record that the focus is largely on the newcomer, but it is also the potential that the winger has.
Welsh roll the dice for Paris trip https://t.co/ZA3LsltsdT
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) October 22, 2020
Rees-Zammit burst onto the scene at the end of 2019 and the beginning of 2020, and he finished the Gallagher Premiership season with the second-most tries, only one behind the eleven scored by his teammate Ollie Thorley and Bristol Bears’ Ben Earl.
He earned a call-up to Pivac’s squad in the Guinness Six Nations on the back of his form, but he – and the Welsh public – have had to wait for his first cap. If anything, the demands are that the winger should start this weekend, particularly as it is a match that does not carry the weight of a Six Nations or Autumn Nations Cup contest.
Being the captain and player that he is, Jones will not want the attention to be on himself leading up to the Test match, although he would not want any pressure to be applied to his uncapped teammate either.
Over the course of the autumn, Jones is likely to become the first player to play 150 Tests. With 138 caps for Wales and nine for the British and Irish Lions, he will continue to extend his country’s caps record as well.
Hope @LouisReesZammit has at least 40mins in this game. I'm all for not throwing him the international deep end, but tbh the guys been on fire for a few seasons in one if the toughest club leagues!
— taffy (@tafffyboy) October 22, 2020
Why not just give Rees-Zammit a chance from the start.
— RP (@RWPower10) October 22, 2020
Very good team but I’d love to know the logic behind starting North ahead of Louis Rees-Zammit in a FRIENDLY GAME https://t.co/tfDUAi910C
— South Terracer (@TerracerSouth) October 22, 2020
Still wondering what rees zammit got to do get a start ? https://t.co/tUGw7Lm5Da
— alun0077 (@alunjp77) October 22, 2020
— matt rogers (@mattrog61163462) October 22, 2020
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