Rees-Zammit vs May: 'They run against each other a lot in training, they're well versed on each other's strengths and weaknesses'
It’s set to be one of the most intriguing Guinness Six Nations individual battles for many a year, the February 27 head-to-head in Cardiff between two Gloucester teammates with serious wheels, Louis Rees-Zammit of Wales going up against England’s Jonny May.
In the red corner, there will be a 20-year-old from Penarth who has six Test caps and four tries, and in the white corner there is an experienced 30-year-old from Swindon who has 63 Test caps and 32 tries.
Both generated massive headlines coming out of Murrayfield and Twickenham last weekend. In Edinburgh, Rees-Zammit won the whole shooting match for Wales with his audacious kick, chase, gather and winning score in an amazing gallop down the touchline.
Meanwhile, in London some hours earlier, May’s acrobatic finish in the corner was a score that made him the second all-time highest England try scorer. Now, if both stay fit, they are poised to go head-to-head at the Principality on Saturday week, Rees-Zammit donning the Wales No14 and May wearing the England No11.
It’s likely to provide epic entertainment, even for Gloucester boss George Skivington who will have to watch the battle unfold on TV delay as his team’s 3.15pm kick-off in the Gallagher Premiership at home to Worcester that same day won’t be finished by the time Pascal Gauzere blows his whistle for the 4.45pm Test kick-off in Cardiff.
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“Thankfully I will get to watch that game without any pressure on the result,” enthused Skivington at his club’s weekly media conference. “They run against each other a lot in training. Like we have done with the squad selections, we mix and match in training a lot and make sure we have got different combinations running together.
“For Jonny and Zam, it’s great for both of them. It’s great for Jonny as well having a youngster like Zam keeping him on his toes, defending and attacking against each other. They’re well versed on each other’s strengths and weaknesses and I’m sure they will enjoy going head to head.”
Skivington sidestepped when asked which of his Kingsholm flyers is the fastest. “We’ll maybe wait and see for that day. I wouldn’t know exactly but it would be pretty close.”
While everyone has long admired the talents of May, who made the breakthrough at Gloucester in 2010 and was first capped by England in 2013, the world is only waking up to the potential possessed by Rees-Zammit, who made his club debut in 2019 and had a first appearance for Wales just last October in a friendly versus France.
“He [Rees-Zammit] is a world-class finisher,” beamed Skivington. “There are not that many people with Zam’s pace and ability to score tries. He is thriving on that at the moment. He is just a very impressive young man. He is very humble. He works hard. He gets on with his job.
“He knows he has got lots to learn the game and he has got two good environments that he can bounce off and be around some really good individual professionals as well. He is at the very start of his journey and it’s teeing up to be a very exciting one for him.”
If the pair see out the remainder of the championship in the same attention-grabbing way they have started it, they could each be receiving a call from Warren Gatland about touring with the Lions if their series versus the Springboks goes ahead.
“It would be amazing for Gloucester,” continued Skivington. “If we get anyone on the Lions tour it is a great representation of the club. I don’t think it is something those two are focused on right now.
“Zam is back training with us this week. The first thing he said was, ‘Let’s get into Bath and let’s try and beat Bath on Friday night’. That is a credit to him but it’s always great to see any Gloucester players playing for their country and we’ll see what happens with the Lions in the summer, but that is a good bit off yet.”
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