Rugby headlines as Wales star shocked by own autumn call up and Pivac expects more exiles to return
Here are your rugby morning headlines for Thursday, October 14.
Williams shocked by autumn call-up
Scarlets centre Johnny Williams admitted he has was shocked he got the call from Wayne Pivac following months off with injury.
The Wales midfielder suffered a head knock against Ireland in the Six Nations and then damaged a shoulder playing for the Scarlets against Sale Sharks in the Heineken Champions Cup in April.
He returns to the squad after barely an hour’s rugby this season for the west Walian outfit, however Pivac has faith he can deliver in red of Wales this autumn.
The player himself, though, was pretty shocked by his inclusion in the squad.
“I’m good. Just found out. I’m really excited!” he said.
“I wasn’t really expecting it to be honest after coming off such a long injury, but really buzzing and really excited about it.
“It’s been really tough. A really nasty injury to recover from. It was a tough six months just flew by. I just switched off from rugby and all that sort of stuff.
“Once we were back in, it was a tough pre-season, I seemed so close but so far away from playing.
“The last few months were a bit of a drag but to get the call-up after the weekend was a bit of a shock, but I’m really excited and looking forward to it.”
Pivac expecting more exiles to return to Wales
Wales boss Wayne Pivac said he would be “surprised” if more Welsh players do not come back across the border over the next two years.
It comes after Thomas Young was named in Wales’ squad for the autumn after his return to Cardiff Rugby from Wasps was made official for next season.
The WRU’s 60-cap rule currently prohibits players who ply their trade outside of Wales to represent their country unless they have 60 Welsh caps to their name.
With a number of players not available for Wales’ first game against the All Blacks due to there being Gallagher Premiership fixtures, it creates quite the dilemma for Pivac and Co.
But the New Zealander admitted he has been working hard to facilitate bringing Welsh players back to Wales and hopes that trend continues in the years to come.
“We are keen to work closely with the clubs and through our rugby management board we are doing that,” Pivac said.
“In the last 12 months you would have seen a number of international level players coming back to Wales and we’ve been in the thick of that with the clubs helping to get those players back.
“The more players that are playing in Wales; it shows Tommy Reffell, Thomas Young, do we want two sevens who can’t be there for the first two weeks?
“These are the juggling acts that goes on behind closed doors with the selections. Like the tens we’ve got two out there.
“We’d rather have one out there or none if possible. From a selfish and Welsh team point of view we’d love all our players coming in Wales.
“I’d be surprised if there aren’t more coming back in the next four to 24 months. Certainly, we keep a good exiles programme going here.
“We monitor their games every week and from time to time we are having the rugby conversations we feel we need to have.”
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Peel unsure on Liam Williams return timeline
Dwayne Peel has said the timescale on Liam Williams’ return is still unknown after the Scarlets, Wales and Lions full-back had his appendix removed.
Scarlets boss Peel revealed the news earlier this month, which made Williams a major doubt for the All Blacks clash and indeed the rest of the autumn campaign.
However, Pivac named Williams in his squad for the upcoming internationals, but insisted he would not be rushed back to the pitch following such an operation.
And, when quizzed on Williams’ progress, Peel said: “No. To be honest, I haven’t [got a clearer idea]. I know he was doing low, low-level running today.
“It’s just a medical thing. Obviously he’s had his appendix out. I suppose it’s just a question of when the medics think he’s ready to push through.
“It’s frustrating timing for him, and frustrating timing for us as well, we would’ve liked to have got him on the pitch for us. I appreciate he has a Wales campaign to look forward to as well, but we want to see him on the pitch for us as well, and it’s obviously disappointing from our perspective that we weren’t able to do that. He’s okay, he’s in decent spirits. It’s one of those that no one could have seen coming.
“It is what it is unfortunately.”
Sky is the limit for Christ, says Baxter
Exeter boss Rob Baxter believes the “sky’s the limit” for Christ Tshiunza after his call-up to the Wales squad.
The uncapped Chiefs forward is just 19 but has impressed during his fledgling senior career and has been tipped as a player who can really make an impression this autumn.
And his club coach Baxter is not surprised in the slightest that Wayne Pivac decided to include him in his 38-man squad for the upcoming campaign.
“I am not surprised,” Exeter director of rugby Baxter said. “It’s probably a little bit early in his rugby career – I don’t think even Christ would mind me saying that – but I can understand the reasons why.
“There is a real physical presence there, he is going to be a big, athletic man.
“He has got very good speed, he is big, strong and quick, quick off the ground lineout-wise and he likes to bump into people. So those core fundamentals of what it takes to be a rugby player are there.
“And now, really, it’s just about how far he can get. It is about playing plenty of rugby and training as well as he can.
“He is probably one of those where right here and now the sky’s the limit a little bit.”
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