Josh Adams admits it is “a surreal feeling” to have realised a rugby dream and be picked for Wales.
Wing Adams, who has scored 13 tries in all competitions for Aviva Premiership strugglers Worcester this season, will make his Test match debut against opening NatWest 6 Nations opponents Scotland on Saturday.
His former school class-mate Steff Evans will be on Wales’ other wing, and it represents a rapid rise, given that Adams did not make his Worcester debut until barely 16 months ago after being released by the Scarlets.
“I felt a bit sick, really,” said Adams, when asked for his reaction to hearing his name read out in the Wales team.
“I worked really hard to get to this point, and when you actually get the call it’s a surreal feeling.
“There are a lot of nerves mixed in with the excitement, but it’s something I am really looking forward to doing on Saturday.”
Wales head coach Warren Gatland has been impressed by the rise of Adams.
“Josh gets a great opportunity to stake a claim,” he said.
“We have had a look at him recently, and he has been scoring tries for a Worcester in a team that’s not at the top of the table.
“He has got to take some credit for that, and we have been impressed with him the last couple of weeks he has been in camp with us.”
Gatland has taken Wales’ crippling injury crisis on the chin ahead of their opener against Scotland. Wales go into the Principality Stadium clash without around 500 caps’ worth of experience, having lost, among others, players like Sam Warburton, Jonathan Davies, Taulupe Faletau, Dan Biggar, and Rhys Webb.
While wings George North and Liam Williams could be in contention for next week’s Twickenham appointment with Six Nations title holders England, the current list of absentees has hit Wales hard.
Gatland, whose starting line-up to face Scotland includes a record 10 Scarlets players, will not be looking for excuses.
“We are all aware of the pressure on players, particularly after a Lions year,” he said.
“Players haven’t had a huge amount of time in the off-season to repair and recover.
“A lot of teams are in the same boat, but it’s just the way the game is going. Sometimes, teams just have a run of injuries. I look at it as a positive. Other players are going to get an opportunity to put down a marker. It helps us develop some depth for the World Cup in Japan in 2019.”
Meanwhile, Eddie Jones has hailed the “miracle” recovery of Jack Nowell and two senior England players in time to face Italy on Sunday.
Nowell had been ruled out for three to four weeks by an ankle injury but is now in contention for the NatWest 6 Nations opener at the Stadio Olimpico, a beneficiary of what Jones describes as a “magic sponge”.
Additional good news was provided by Chris Robshaw and Mike Brown, who will line up at flanker and full-back after overcoming the respective back problem and blurred vision that had seen them rated as “borderline” by their head coach.
Completing a positive medical bulletin was Maro Itoje’s rehabilitation from a hip complaint and the only unavailable player from the 34-man squad in place at England’s Surrey training base is Zach Mercer, who has been struck down by a viral infection.
“We’ve had some miracles,” said Jones, who names his team to face Italy on Friday.
“Remember in the old days they used to have magic sponges? You’d be down and out and the guy would come out with a yellow sponge, put it on you and you’d recover.
“Well they’re back! The magic sponges are back. Jack’s gone from being out for three weeks to he’s playing.”
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