Topsy Ojo column: Wales wing Louis Rees-Zammit faces toughest test so far with England clash

Simon Collings
·3-min read
 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Just under two years ago, Wales wing Louis Rees-Zammit wasn’t far off making his Gloucester debut and would have been watching the Six Nations on television, dreaming about playing in it.

Now, at the age of just 20, he is lighting up this year’s tournament and is the player everyone is talking about ahead of Wales v England this weekend.

It has been a meteoric rise for him, but I can imagine everyone around Louis will be telling him to treat Saturday like any other game.

You don’t want players to go into their shells when they get to the Test-match arena, you just want them to go out there and enjoy themselves.

Louis is certainly doing that and we’ve seen already how his pace is pretty ridiculous. It is such a standout feature of his and when you have that naturally you know you just need to be given the ball, and a bit of space, and you’re going to cause chaos.

We have seen that at Gloucester and so Louis’ progression on the international stage hasn’t come as much of a surprise. He has been given an opportunity by Wales and he’s flourishing.

England this weekend will be Louis’ toughest test so far. We have seen how England like to play - kicking the ball and putting pressure on the opposition by squeezing them on the chase.

Louis is going to have his Gloucester team-mate Jonny May up against him, who is one of the best at retrieving offensive kicks, and England will look to pressure Wales in that department.

Eddie Jones will want his side to test where Louis is at mentally. Drop one high ball? It’s easy to shake it off. Drop two, three or four and that pressure intensifies - especially for someone so young.

Having Liam Williams alongside him will help massively. Liam is one of the world’s best under the high ball and I think he would have come into the side - perhaps on the wing - even if Leigh Halfpenny was fit.

Liam will relish that aerial battle and the chance to counter attack, and I can imagine it’ll be a bit like Stuart Hogg in that opening game between England and Scotland.

Getty Images
Getty Images

I think the back-three battle between the two teams as a whole will be really intriguing as they are two similar units.

For England, they’ll be wanting their trio of Anthony Watson, Elliot Daly and May to really explode on Saturday. We got a taste of it in the Italy game, but Wales is a step up.

Perhaps it is a symptom of England as a whole, coming into this tournament without as much game as they would’ve liked but they’re just slowly finding their feet.

England fans will want to see more of Anthony and Jonny getting their hands on the ball, beating their opposite man.

The match with Wales in the Autumn Nations Cup showed England they can get opportunities out wide if they move the ball and it is just about taking those chances. Anthony and Jonny will be crucial to that.

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