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In the Spotlight: Shane Lewis-Hughes

In the Spotlight: Shane Lewis-Hughes

In the Spotlight: Shane Lewis-Hughes

He’s been dubbed an Alun Wyn Jones clone and the Autumn Nations Cup will provide the perfect platform for Shane Lewis-Hughes to make his mark on the international stage.

The supremely talented 23-year-old is set to make his second appearance for Wales after entering the international scene in the Six Nations finale against Scotland.

The Cardiff Blues forward was not originally named Wayne Pivac’s 38-man squad but came in as injury cover for Ross Moriarty and Josh Navidi and has not looked back since.

Lewis-Hughes was one of the few positives for Wayne Pivac’s side in their defeat to Scotland and he will once again take centre stage in Wales’ opening clash against Ireland.

From Ferndale to Rhondda

The openside flanker first watched rugby when he was approximately six years old.

Wales were playing on the television and it sparked a passion which led to him joining his local club Ferndale, falling in love with the sport after taking part in his first session.

At the age of 12, Lewis-Hughes went to play for Ystrad Rhondda and made his way through the district age grades as his obsession with rugby only grew stronger.

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One coach who had a major influence on the Welshman at Rhondda was Chris Jones and Lewis-Hughes believes he instilled a ‘hard edge’ in him that he’s kept ever since.

“I can’t put into words how much that bloke means to me,” he said of Jones.

“From the first conversation I had with him, when I met him at nine years old, the fire he gave me to play rugby, on top of what I already had in me, was unbelievable.”

Rise from club to country

Growing up cheering Cardiff Blues from the stands, Lewis-Hughes attended an U16 trial at the club and joined the Academy.

At youth level, he played for Wales at U16s, U18s and U20s, and he started every game in the Grand Slam-winning team in the U20 Six Nations Championship in 2016.

Soon enough he made his debut for the senior Blues and picked up appearances before having his breakthrough last season in the PRO14, when he made 18 appearances.

And although initially not included in the Wales squad for the Autumn Nations Cup, the flanker came in as injury cover and will hope to keep his place for the foreseeable future.

High praise from Pivac

Before making his debut in Wales’ 14-10 loss to Scotland at Parc y Scarlets, Lewis-Hughes received a glowing recommendation from the Wales coach Wayne Pivac.

“He’s got some good raw ingredients, he’s a tough bugger and he throws himself about at training,” Pivac said. “He’s willing to learn and he’s very coachable.

“We just think he’s trained very well since coming in, he’s impressed everybody and he’s a player that we’ve earmarked for the future.

“This is going to be a big test for him, but we think he deserves the opportunity after how he’s gone in training and what he’s showing us.”

But the biggest praise of all came from Wales’ record-breaking captain Alun Wyn Jones and Pivac agreed with the skipper in his comparison.

Pivac added: “Alun Wyn Jones said: ‘I’ve been waiting 15 years for someone like Shane to come along!’ It’s pretty high praise coming from our captain.

“If you look at Alun Wyn in terms of his preparation, the way he trains and the way he reviews and previews his opposition, Shane Lewis-Hughes is a clone.

“I can’t say any more than that on what I’ve seen so far. He’s been leaving the team room at 9.30-10pm each night. He’s doing his homework and everything Alun Wyn Jones does.

“He’s taken him on as a bit of a project.”

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