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Meet Tom Rogers, Welsh rugby’s breakthrough star who’s been likened to Liam Williams and is being touted for a Wales call

Being compared to a stellar rugby name can be a weight around the neck of a young player.

But if Tom Rogers is concerned about being likened to Liam Williams, he makes a good job of disguising it.

“Being compared to Sanjay is awesome,” he says with the confidence of youth and using the name that Williams is known by to one and all at the Scarlets.

“He was my idol growing up. Just to be anything like him would be amazing.”

It is still early days for Rogers, of course, but the progress he has made this season has been eye-opening. He has the priceless ability to fashion something out of nothing — in more colourful terms, to turn straw into gold.

The try he scored against Connacht in March involved one of the best steps of the season, leaving opposition full-back John Porch chasing shadows.

He can defend, too.

Against Cardiff Blues earlier this month, he pulled off a try-rescuing tackle on Josh Turnbull which involved wonderful commitment, and he followed it up with a key second-half turnover.

In a game where attacking chances were few and far between, he also fashioned a half-break that put Dane Blacker over.

There remains so much for Rogers to learn — he hasn’t long been introduced to the world of press conferences for sports people, even though he handled the one he did this week without problems, coming across as a friendly, personable sort.

That he has potential on the pitch isn’t in doubt.

With Mat Protheroe and Rio Dyer, he’s one of a trio of young wings who are pushing hard to make the Wales squad for the Tests with Argentina and Canada this summer.

Whether he called up by Wayne Pivac or not in the coming months, he is on the right road.

“I would say he’s going to be capped over the next 12 months,” said a close observer of the age-grade season in Wales, who didn’t want to be named but who has followed Rogers’ progress since his teenage years.

“He’s that good. He’s 6ft 1in, lean strong and very rangy, with that Liam Williams type of commitment to the way he does things.

“He can play 15 and wing. For me, 15 is his better position.

“What I like about him is that he’s not resting on his laurels.

“He wants to be an aerial king. Sanjay and Dan Biggar tick the boxes there, and Tom wants to as well, so he’s working at it.

“My thinking is he has the all the credentials to be an international full-back.

“But he’s a cracking wing as well. Let’s just say that as a player, he’s has all the qualities to succeed.”

Johnny McNicholl is one of the fastest wings in Welsh rugby, but Rogers is quick as well, proving as much in the regular speed tests the Scarlets carry out.

There’s a refreshing humility about him, too — a just-grateful-to-be-playing-for-his-local-team quality.

“Since I was a kid playing for Cefneithin, my one dream was to play for Scarlets,” says Rogers, who comes from Cross Hands.

“So it’s surreal to play next to boys like Sanjay, Leigh Halfpenny, Steff (Evans) and Johnny Mac (McNicholl).

“Every session I’m picking their brains, learning new stuff.

“I’ve learnt loads and had a bit of game-time. I can’t ask for more, really.”

The youngster has had his media training as well, batting off a question about Wales with a polite “what will be will be — I’m just looking to play well for the Scarlets”.

He almost forgets his lines later on in the session when asked if he’s ready to take the next step for Wales ‘because it would be great experience’.

“Yes, hundred per cent. I’m comfortable,” he says, before quickly returning to script.

“But I’m just trying to play well for the Scarlets.

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“My job is to perform for the Scarlets. That’s what I’m trying to do.”

He looks a hot prospect.

Pivac’s call is whether to ask him to keep three weeks in July free in his diary.

But whatever happens on that front, Rogers can expect a Wales summons at point.

He’s a young player who’s going places.

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