'Sky's the limit' for Wales call-up Tshiunza

Last Updated: 14/10/21 2:25pm Exeter boss Rob Baxter believes it could be a case of "the sky's the limit" for surprise Wales call-up Christ Tshiunza. The uncapped 19-year-old Chiefs back-row or second

'Sky's the limit' for Wales call-up Tshiunza

Exeter's Rob Baxter on Christ Tshiunza's Wales call-up: "I am not surprised. It's probably a little bit early in his career - but there is a real physical presence there, he has got very good speed, he is big, strong. He is probably one of those where the sky's the limit a little bit."

Last Updated: 14/10/21 2:25pm

The 'sky is the limit' for 19-year-old Wales call-up Christ Tshiunza. says Exeter coach Rob Baxter The 'sky is the limit' for 19-year-old Wales call-up Christ Tshiunza. says Exeter coach Rob Baxter
The 'sky is the limit' for 19-year-old Wales call-up Christ Tshiunza. says Exeter coach Rob Baxter

Exeter boss Rob Baxter believes it could be a case of "the sky's the limit" for surprise Wales call-up Christ Tshiunza.

The uncapped 19-year-old Chiefs back-row or second-row forward was born in DR Congo but moved to Wales in 2010 and is a product of Whitchurch High School in Cardiff, whose past pupils also include Sam Warburton, Gareth Bale and Geraint Thomas.

On Wednesday, Tshiunza was named among Wayne Pivac's 38-man Wales squad[1] for the Autumn Nations Series Tests.

Within an hour or so of his Wales squad selection to contest the Autumn Tests - appointments with New Zealand, South Africa, Fiji and Australia - 6ft 6in Tshiunza was turning out for Exeter University against Cardiff University in a cup game.

"I am not surprised," Exeter rugby director 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.

Tshiunza, pictured in action for Exeter Chiefs in the Gallagher Premiership this season, can play at back-row or second row Tshiunza, pictured in action for Exeter Chiefs in the Gallagher Premiership this season, can play at back-row or second row
Tshiunza, pictured in action for Exeter Chiefs in the Gallagher Premiership this season, can play at back-row or second row

"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."

Wales Under-20 international Tshiunza can play across the back five, with Wales naming him among their lock contingent.

Wales head coach Pivac said: "We are looking at the here and now, and we are also looking at the 2023 World Cup.

Tshiunza, a Wales U20 international, is being looked at in terms of the 2023 Rugby World Cup, says Wales head coach Wayne Pivac Tshiunza, a Wales U20 international, is being looked at in terms of the 2023 Rugby World Cup, says Wales head coach Wayne Pivac
Tshiunza, a Wales U20 international, is being looked at in terms of the 2023 Rugby World Cup, says Wales head coach Wayne Pivac

"He is a great athlete, he has got a good skill-set. He obviously lacks game-time in senior rugby, but he is in a good place at Exeter in terms of working under Rob Baxter.

"He brings something that no one else probably has in the country in terms of his height and athleticism, so it is getting him involved at an early stage for his development.

"Whether he will play rugby in this series, time will tell, but we want to get him in, get him around the senior players and get him used to the environment."

References

  1. ^ Wayne Pivac's 38-man Wales squad (www.skysports.com)