Here are your Six Nations morning headlines for Monday, February 15.
England must beware ‘unreal’ Louis Rees-Zammit, warns Woodward
World Cup-winning coach Sir Clive Woodward has lauded the talents of “natural born scorer” Louis Rees-Zammit ahead of England’s showdown with Wales in Cardiff, but questioned why he wasn’t a guaranteed starter before.
Rees-Zammit starred in Wales’ triumph over Scotland last weekend, scoring one try before setting up another as Wayne Pivac’s side scraped home against 14 men up at Murrayfield.
But it the 20-year-old Gloucester wing who took the headlines and Woodward, like the vast majority of the rugby world, is just the latest to be taken aback by just how well the Welsh speedster has taken to international rugby.
“Another facet of the weekend’s play that was predictable was the excellence of Louis Rees-Zammit,” he wrote in his Daily Mail column. The 20-year-old Wales wing is doing what he has been doing for Gloucester for a season or so, and for Hartpury College before that.
“He has unreal pace, especially from a standing start which not all flyers possess, but he is much more than merely a speed machine.
“He has the spatial awareness of a natural born scorer and beautiful skills. His chip ahead when running at full tilt to score his second try against Scotland was a thing of wonder.
“He is fearless and has that comic book hero quality, but remember he wouldn’t have been playing in the last two Tests had it not been for Josh Adams contravening Covid protocols, which raises a couple of points.
“Why wasn’t he the first choice and why do so many coaches distrust youth? Not all sporting adages are reliable but the one about ‘if you are good enough you are old enough’ always holds true.”
In truth Rees-Zammit’s inclusion against Ireland was unrelated to Adams’ suspension for breaking Covid-19 protocols, with Hallam Amos coming in for him and Liam Williams suspended.
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Rees-Zammit revved up for Jonny May challenge
Wales speed demon Louis Rees-Zammit is relishing the prospect of coming up against fellow fleet-footed club mate Jonny May.
Rees-Zammit knows May from their time at Gloucester, with both players celebrated for their jet heels and natural finishing ability.
The Welshman has emerged as a real talent on the international stage, having scored four tries in his six Test appearances so far. However, May edges him on experience during an international career which spans over a decade now.
There will be an element of the master taking on the apprentice in Cardiff in just under a fortnight’s time, but Rees-Zammit cannot wait to pit his wits against his Cherry and Whites team-mate at the Principality Stadium.
“It should be a good show,’ the 20-year-old said.
‘”‘m sure Jonny will say he’s excited to play against me, and I’m the same. I train with him every day, and learn a lot from him. It’s going to be interesting to actually play against him. I did in the autumn but he wasn’t the opposite wing. It’s a bit different this time.”
The youngster took his chance tremendously against the Scots up in Edinburgh.
He executed a stunning chip and chase, while running at full tilt, to get his try and has rendered himself undroppable ahead of the visit of Eddie Jones’ England.
“I was calling for the ball nice and early as I saw there was a lot of space on the outside,” he said of his try.
“Thankfully Willis Halaholo gave it to me. I tried to use my gas to get on the outside of their wing. I did that and then saw there was no backfield cover. It gives you that opportunity to put it through and try to get the bounce. It bounced up lovely for me.”
Owen Farrell ‘holding England back’, claims Dawson
Owen Farrell “does not fit” into England’s side right now and is holding their attack back, claims World Cup-winning scrum-half Matt Dawson.
England come up against Wales after the Six Nations fallow week, having bounced back to winning ways against Italy following a Calcutta Cup defeat by Scotland in the opening round.
Eddie Jones’ side just appear to be searching for their best form at the minute, with their back line failing to click into gear as it has done so often in the past.
And Dawson believes that the England captain looks visibly under pressure and “on edge” ahead of the Wales clash.
“Owen Farrell is an England great but right now it is as if he does not fit in the side’s attacking structure,” he wrote in his BBC column.
“During Saturday’s win against Italy, you could tell the England captain was rattled.
“Whatever is going on in his rugby life, he is under pressure. You could see it at times when he was talking to the referee.
“Farrell was scrapping, fighting and was lucky he was not punished for a late tackle on Italy scrum-half Stephen Varney.
“He is on the edge. He will not like it, but we have all been there and it has got to be recognised by selection.
“It does not mean Farrell is not going to be a world-class player, but there just needs to be a bit of coaching and training – maybe away from the side. Something needs to happen, because it is holding England back.”
Read the full story here.
‘Phenomenal’ Cuthbert’s solo try helps Chiefs down London Irish
A stunning solo try from “phenomenal” former Wales and Lions wing Alex Cuthbert helped Exeter Chiefs thrash London Irish at Sandy Park.
The 47-cap Wales international rolled back the years at the weekend, when he picked the ball up in the 13 channel and sliced through the Irish defence to put the game out of reach for the visitors.
And Chiefs assistant coach Ali Hepher has lavished praise on the 30-year-old, who has missed months of the season due to a significant muscle tear, for his part in the 26-3 triumph.
“You can see what a phenomenal player Alex is and he is everything you would want from a winger,” Hepher said.
“After being out for so long with injury, he’s been remarkable in the last two games and his try was the defining moment of the match.
“We need to look after him and get as many minutes on the pitch as we can from him, so we took him off as a precautionary measure as his back was tightening up.”