Louis Rees-Zammit can handle the pressure of England clash – Jonathan Humphreys

Andrew Baldock, PA Rugby Union Correspondent
·4-min read

Wales wing sensation Louis Rees-Zammit has been backed to “deal with anything that comes his way” in Saturday’s Guinness Six Nations showdown against England.

The 20-year-old Gloucester speedster has made a spectacular start to his international career, scoring four tries in six Tests.

Three of those touchdowns came during Wales’ Six Nations victories over Ireland and Scotland, including a double at Murrayfield that nudged his team over the line as 25-24 winners.

If Wales topple England in Cardiff they will clinch the Triple Crown – a first major trophy of head coach Wayne Pivac’s reign – and strengthen their Six Nations title hopes.

Rees-Zammit is sure to attract close attention from England, particularly defensively and under the high ball, while he looks set to line up opposite a familiar face in England try machine and his Gloucester team-mate Jonny May.

“Any threatening player is going to come with a huge tag on top of his head, so we are expecting (Rees-Zammit), among other players, to be targeted,” Wales assistant coach Jonathan Humphreys said.

“Louis has made massive improvements in his game, and he knows a lot of those English players, so with that comes a huge amount of pressure.

“But he has got a great temperament and we back him to deal with anything that comes his way.

Wales v Barbarians – International – Principality Stadium
Wales assistant coach Jonathan Humphreys (David Davies/PA)

“He’s great, he has just turned 20 and you can see how much he has grown up from the last Six Nations to this one.

“He is well aware of the work-ons – the amount of stuff he has got to do outside of scoring tries – and he is working very, very hard at doing that.”

Wales’ injury situation, meanwhile, has improved considerably after Pivac was without a quarter of his original 36-man squad through injuries or suspension for the appointment with Scotland 10 days ago.

Players like fit-again backs George North, Jonathan Davies and Johnny Williams are set to be in the selection mix, and wing Josh Adams is available again after serving a two-match ban for breaching coronavirus protocols.

Full-back Leigh Halfpenny is going through return to play protocols after failing a head injury assessment at Murrayfield, with only scrum-half Tomos Williams (hamstring) currently ruled out.

Wales v Ireland – Guinness Six Nations – Principality Stadium
Peter O’Mahony (right) is sent off during Ireland’s Six Nations defeat against Wales (David Davies/PA)

Red cards are rugby union’s major talking point, with Wales seeing Ireland flanker Peter O’Mahony and Scotland prop Zander Fagerson sent off against them for dangerous ruck clear-outs, while there were similar sending-off episodes during last weekend’s Gallagher Premiership action.

“Any contact with the head runs a high risk of red cards,” Humphreys added. “It’s something we have been aware of all the way through this tournament.

“You need to keep reminding of the ramifications of any head collisions. We work very hard at that in training to be technically as good as we can.

“It’s everything we were advised on before the tournament. Referees want to clamp down on it, especially with everything that goes with concussions, and we were aware of it from the off.

“It doesn’t surprise me that we are having that (run of red cards). We just have to make sure we are not on the receiving end of that.”

England will arrive at the Principality Stadium looking to make an impact on this season’s Six Nations after being beaten by Scotland and then producing a largely unconvincing performance in seeing off Italy.

“They are a world-class team,” Humphreys said.

“A couple of months ago, they were winning the Six Nations and the Autumn Nations Cup, so we are expecting a huge physical challenge.

“It’s a massive Test match with everything that goes with Wales versus England. We are expecting the very best version of England.”