Wales open the door for England to call up Leicester star Tommy Reffell as Wayne Pivac admits he won’t select ex-Dragons U20 captain ‘just to stop them playing for another country’ in huge boost for Eddie Jones
- Wales have left the door open for England to pick Leicester’s Tommy Reffell
- Pivac said he wouldn’t select players to stop them playing for another country
- Reffell, 22, was born in Bridgend and captained Wales at Under-20 level
- However, the talented Tigers flanker qualifies for England on residency
- He’s had a fine season in the Premiership but was left out of Wales’ summer team
Wales have left the door open for England to pick Leicester’s in-form Tommy Reffell after Wayne Pivac said: ‘We’re not going to select players to stop them playing for another country.’
Reffell, 22, was born in Bridgend and captained Wales at Under-20 level, but the flanker has played his entire professional career for the Tigers and qualifies for England on residency.
He has had a fine season in the Gallagher Premiership with a Leicester side improving under Steve Borthwick’s guidance, but was left out of Wales’ summer squad on Monday.
Wales have left the door open for England to pick Leicester’s in-form flanker Tommy Reffell
England name their party for games with USA and Canada on Thursday with Reffell very much on Red Rose supremo Eddie Jones’ radar.
‘I’d like to select every young Welsh rugby player and make their dream come true, but seven is a position where we have a lot of good young talent,’ said Wales head coach Pivac.
‘James Botham and Taine Basham have both been in the squad before and have impressed us in our training sessions. Then we’ve got Jac Morgan and Tommy.
‘At the moment it’s certainly the ones playing in Wales who have an advantage. We’re comfortable with the ones we’ve selected as they’ve got runs on the board in our environment.’
Wayne Pivac said he wouldn’t select players to stop them playing for another country
Reffell is very much on Red Rose supremo Eddie Jones’ radar and could be called up
Asked if he feared losing Reffell, who has been compared to former Wales captain Sam Warburton, to the clutches of Jones, Pivac added: ‘It’s no different to other situations where there are dual opportunities. We’re not going to select players to stop them playing for another country. I don’t think that’s the right thing to do – to get a guy capped and then not use him.’
Wales will be without 10 of their best players this summer who are part of Warren Gatland’s British & Irish Lions touring party to South Africa. Even with a host of first-choice stars unavailable, there is no place for Reffell in a 34-man Wales summer squad which will be captained by the experienced centre Jonathan Davies, 33.
It may lead Reffell, who is still understood to favour Wales over England, to re-evaluate his future. Reffell would be tied to England if he played against USA or Canada or if he featured for England A against Scotland A at his home ground of Welford Road later this month.
Wales, meanwhile, will face Canada and two Tests with Argentina in July. Pivac has blended youth with experience for those matches with five uncapped players named.
Gareth Thomas, Ben Carter, Basham, Ben Thomas and Tom Rogers are alongside old heads Davies, Leigh Halfpenny, Cory Hill and Tomas Francis.
Reffell (middle), 22, was born in Bridgend and has captained Wales at Under-20 level
Davies was the Lions man of the series against New Zealand in 2017 and has featured in the team’s last six Tests across two tours, but missed out on selection for this year’s South Africa trip.
He last captained Wales against Italy in the 2019 Six Nations.
‘Jon loves putting on the Welsh jersey. When I gave him the phone call, it was the dreaded phone call within 24 hours of naming a squad. I think he thought he was being left out,’ said Pivac.
‘He was over the moon with being given the opportunity to lead the side. He’s got a big leadership role and is going to enjoy that challenge. It gives him something to really focus on while he’s with us and if he’s on a shortlist for the Lions and there is a call-up, he’s in the right place and ready to go.’