Tonight's rugby news as new Wales star 'the difference' and Wallabies boss 'never been so under-prepared'

-Credit: (Image: Huw Evans Picture Agency Ltd)
-Credit: (Image: Huw Evans Picture Agency Ltd)

Your rugby evening headlines on Thursday, June 27.

Jarrod Evans: Wales star deserves a shot

Harlequins fly-half Jarrod Evans has picked out Ben Thomas as a potential difference-maker for Wales.

Speaking on the Attacking Scrum podcast as a guest, Evans was asked what he's made of Thomas so far this season, and whether he could do a job in the Wales backline.

"I've played with Ben for a number of years, he's smart, he knows the game inside out," explained Evans. "I think he could be that difference in terms of helping the nine and 10 out. I think he would have been perfect on the weekend because of that high up and in defence.

"If we play early and get into his hands, he can find the space whether it's over the top or with half-kicks. I'd always lean to having another player outside of the 10 who can kick these days because you've got to execute the space then. It's hard to do it sometimes being a 10, you're all on your own.

"Going back to Ben, like you said, he's been outstanding this year playing 12 for Cardiff, he's created a lot of opportunities, he's organised well, when I played with him he could see space and execute the space. I think he deserves a shot because he's done it for his region week in, week out. He's played 15, 12, 10, so his understanding of the game is something that Wales could with at this moment in time."

Evans himself has eight caps for Wales, and WalesOnline understands that he is still eligible to represent Wales despite plying his trade outside of the country.

SIGN UP: Get the new exclusive Inside Welsh rugby newsletter for full insight into what's really going on around all the big issues. This special offer will get you full access for the entire year for just £10 instead of £40.

Wallaby boss: 'I've never been so under-prepared'

Wallaby head coach Joe Schmidt has admitted he is nervous and under-prepared ahead of the Wales tour of Australia.

It will be the first Test of the 58-year-old's chapter with Australia, and the first time the country have played a match since Eddie Jones was at the helm during a disastrous Rugby World Cup.

The former Ireland boss said he has "never been so under-prepared".

"This is the one time I’ve got to meet all these players, and in those previous roles, I’d had three years with Leinster, and I knew a greater proportion of that squad," he said.

"Before the All Blacks, I had the Blues, and so, yeah, it’s a little bit daunting, to be honest. But if I wasn’t nervous, I don’t think I’d be on the edge doing my job right. So I’m happy to be nervous because it just encourages me to work a bit harder and engage a bit quicker and a bit more often with the players so that we can try to be on the same page.

"One thing I would say is I’ve got real confidence in our coaching group. Laurie [Fisher] ran a lot of today’s session with the defence, and he’s a ball of energy. And he’s a catalyst for enthusiastic contribution, and did a really good job with today’s session, and around the edges.

Wales face Australia twice in the coming weeks.

Rees-Zammit's ex-NFL team-mate signs for rugby team

Louis Rees-Zammit's ex-NFL International Player Pathway team-mate George Smith has signed for Northampton Saints.

The second row has blown away Saints' coaches with his physical testing and he'll hope to spur the club on to a second successive Premiership title next season.

Smith stands at a towering 6ft 8in, and was actually snapped up by the club in the final months of last season, while he was still on NFL pathway programme.

"George’s superpower is that he is 6ft 8in and he can move really quickly,” said Northampton director of rugby Phil Dowson on the 138kg lock.

"The guy is unbelievably physical. When he first arrived, we tested him and his power-per-kilogram scores were incredible – the best we have seen in years. “He is a bright lad and got stuck in from the word go. We’ve got someone who is physical, smart and can play the game."

Wales name team as Lake hits 50

Wales star Kerin Lake will make her 50th appearance for Wales when she faces Spain in the WXV play-off this Saturday.

Wales need a victory over their opposition in order to ensure they play in the second tier of the global competition this autumn. Spain are the current holders of the Rugby Europe Championship, so a tough task awaits Ioan Cunningham's side.

A win also guarantees a place in next year's Rugby World Cup for Wales, which takes place in England. There are seven players from Gloucester-Hartpury named in the team to face Spain, with those having just been crowned the Premiership Women's Rugby champions.

Cunningham has today named his side, with a small change seeing Georgia Evans shift to lock, alongside Abbie Fleming.

Wales: Jenny Hesketh; Lisa Neumann, Hannah Jones (capt), Kerin Lake, Carys Cox; Lleucu George, Keira Bevan; Gwenllian Pyrs, Carys Phillips, Sisilia Tuipulotu, Abbie Fleming, Georgia Evans, Alisha Butchers, Alex Callender, Bethan Lewis

Replacements: Molly Reardon, Abbey Constable, Donna Rose, Kate Williams, Gwennan Hopkins, Sian Jones, Robyn Wilkins, Courtney Keight.