Sports

Christ Tshiunza has played just 64 minutes of senior rugby — this is what he’s done to impress Wayne Pivac

Sixty-four minutes and 33 seconds.

Give or take a second, that’s all the senior rugby Christ Tshiunza has played before getting his first Welsh call-up.

In truth, you probably didn’t need to know that figure to know the 19-year-old is a little raw.

The fact he was turning out for Exeter University against Cardiff University in a BUCS fixture right when Wayne Pivac was elaborating on his autumn squad in a press conference would have told you that.

Of course, Tshiunza has been a talent who the Welsh management have been aware of for some time, with his performances for Wales U20s marking him out as one for the future.

But until the start of this season, his experiences of senior rugby were non-existent.

But steadily, he has become a presence with cameos off the bench for Rob Baxter’s side in the Gallagher Premiership.

Still, 64 minutes – spread across four Premiership appearances – is not the greatest amount of time to make an impression, even if Brian Clough once said it only takes a second to score a goal.

So, just what has Tshiunza offered in his hour or so of senior rugby?

‘He likes to bump into people’

Let’s start with the obvious.

Above all, Tshiunza is a big, physically imposing lad. Exeter team-mate Dave Ewers, hardly a shrinking violet when it comes to big ball-carrying flankers, described him as “a mountain of a man”.

Pivac said after his squad announcement that Tshiunza “brings something nobody else in the country probably has in terms of height and athleticism”.

That physicality – and Tshiunza’s desire to impose it – is what is the most striking thing about his game.

On the same day, Baxter said “he likes to bump into people”.

That was evidenced mere seconds into his first taste of Premiership rugby when he smoked Leicester captain and England international Ellis Genge, forcing the prop into spilling the ball forward.



Seconds into his Premiership debut, Tshiunza puts in a big hit on Ellis Genge which dislodged the ball

“There is a real physical presence there, he is going to be a big, athletic man,” added Baxter on Wednesday.

“He has got very good speed, he is big, strong and quick, quick off the ground lineout-wise.

“So those core fundamentals of what it takes to be a rugby player are there.”

His knack of swallowing up ball-carriers is a handy one to have, but just as Baxter points out he is quick off the ground in the lineout – another useful facet of his game – and he is also quick off the ground after the tackle.

Nothing proved that more than his piece of scramble defence against Worcester in his latest appearance for Exeter.

Despite being on the pitch for just 12 minutes, Tshiunza managed to cause some issues at the breakdown – even if he didn’t get any immediate rewards.

The first saw him track down Ollie Lawrence after the centre had threatened to break into space after stepping through one tackle.

Perhaps even more remarkable than the scramble work to get back and drag Lawrence down with the threat of a broken field in front of him was how quickly Tshiunza sprung to his feet to get over the ball.



Tshiunza did well to scramble back here, before getting to his feet to compete for the ball

There was no turnover that time, but literally seconds later he was getting over the ball.

Despite some good jackal technique, a no-arms tackle from a team-mate denied him the chance of truly competing at the breakdown.



Seconds after that first jackal attempt, he was over the ball again

In his previous match against Sale, he had also shown his eye for a turnover when spotting the chance for a jackal after Sharks fly-half Robert du Preez was felled awkwardly.

The Sale playmaker actually hurt his shoulder in the tackle, resulting in the ball coming away from his grasp slightly.



While folding around the ruck, Tshiunza spotted an opportunity for a turnover and took it

But Tshiunza still managed to spot the opportunity as he folded around and was able to sneak in ahead of the breakdown support to snatch the ball away.

He is a big man keen to bump into people, but he’s got a bit of finesse to his game, too, when it’s called for.

More than a strong carrier

That ideal applies to his ball-carrying, too.

Sure, he has got the power and strength to bust through soft shoulders if needs be.

Just look at the below variation of a typical Exeter goal-line attack, with their hooker taking a quick tap-and-go before feeding Tshiunza to carry hard.

He takes some stopping, even in spite of a relatively upright stance, thanks to a really solid leg-drive, with no fewer than four Worcester defenders getting sucked in to eventually twist him away from the goal-line.



Thsiunza’s goal-line carry managed to suck in four defenders to stop him

When Exeter do then spread it wide from the quick ball generated by his carry, they have an overwhelming overlap thanks to Tshiunza’s carry dragging in defenders who would have otherwise been folding around the ruck.

Even though they nearly butcher it, it proves harder not to score than actually score on that occasion.



As a result of his hard carry, Exeter had a simple overlap to exploit

But he is also capable of some smart footwork to manipulate the collision in his favour.

He picks weak shoulders, adjusting his line into the contact if needed, while on other times he is capable of either stepping through or even spinning out of the collision.

He did just that against Northampton in his second professional appearance for the club, swivelling through the initial tackle to drag two more defenders with him.



This spin through the tackle forced two more Northampton defenders to commit to stopping Tshiunza

A nuisance, if a little naive

“What I do like about Christ is he’s always wanting to learn, and not that he makes mistakes often, but when things don’t go quite his way, he asks the question of what he probably should have done,” team-mate Ewers told BBC Sport this week.

“He’s a bright guy and he’s willing to learn, which is always nice to see for young guys coming through.”

Naturally, there is a bit of naivety in some of the things he does.

In his Premiership debut against Leicester, he followed up that hit on Genge by getting dragged down at the tail of a maul before conceding a penalty for side entry.

One or two of his tackles have crept a little high, too, more though carelessness than malice.

But those are things he will have to adjust to as the intensity of the rugby he is exposed to only increases.

However, there is plenty to like from the 19-year-old so far.

His athletic ability is outstanding, with one chased kick-off against Leicester demonstrating his ability to not only cover ground at pace, but to get off the ground too with little help.

That also shone through when Exeter used him as a secondary chaser on a box-kick.



He is pretty effective on kick chases, such is his athleticism and physicality

When the receiver evaded the lead chaser, Tshiunza was there to stop him in his tracks immediately. That’s an area of the game which Wales have used Justin Tipuric in, with the Ospreys flanker tending to tail the lead chaser, either to offer breakdown support in the case of a caught high-ball or a solid tackling/jackal option if not.

Also, like any good second-row/blindside hybrid, Tshiunza has shown he is capable of being a bit of a nuisance if needed.

Against Sale, he forced their scrum-half inside into traffic after springing off a maul and closing down the blindside threat.



Like all good second-row/blindside hybrids, he’s developing a knack of being a nuisance to opposition scrum-halves

At U20s level, Tshiunza perhaps always looked like a man among boys. Even now, he is still bigger than most.

But the higher you go up the game, the more those factors are diluted by the increased quality. That’s a learning curve he will be exposed to in camp – more so if he’s actually capped.

For now, the mileage on the clock is incredibly low. He should only get better as he racks up the miles.

  • For the latest breaking news, interviews and headlines in Wales, you can sign up to our newsletters to get the biggest stories delivered straight to your inbox.

via

ALSO READ  Rangers dominated by Hurricanes in highly-anticipated matchup
Tags

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button
Close
eskisehir escort -

jojobet.live

- redwin1.club - jetbahis.contact -
retrobet
- tempobet