Welsh Rugby Union | Wales & Regions

The Cardiff back row man made four starts for the side in the Six Nations championship and emerged as one of the starts of the competition in a red shirt. With fellow Blue & Black Alex Mann ruled out through injury it means he will be one of the senior figures in the Welsh scrum.

The opening game against Scotland (25 June) will be critical to the success of the Wales campaign and Fackrell is ready to lead from the front.

“I’m gutted for Alex not being here, but that gives me an opportunity to put up my hand for the No 7 jersey,” said Fackrell, whose cousin, Ellis, is also in the squad.

“It is a mini-World Cup for us and we are going into it and treating it like a World Cup. We’re hoping to win four from four and we feel we’ve got the personnel to do that.

“We want to go out and do the business and having players like Dafydd Jenkins and Christ Tshuinza coming back into the squad has given us a real boost.”

Jenkins and senior Wales cap Tshuinza both had Premiership experience with Exeter Chiefs last season and Jenkins was named as the man of the match in the BUCS Super Rugby final as Exeter University won the title.

Their power and physical presence is set to transform the Welsh forward effort and has allowed Benji Williams to move back to his normal position of No 8. Behind the scrum the fit again Mason Grady and Joe Thomas will provide a considerable boost to the back line.

“It was a difficult start for us to the Six Nations championship in Ireland. We had a few chances early on that we didn’t take, but after that the Irish took control and put us to the sword,” admitted Fackrell, who was one of the stand-out Welsh players on an otherwise dismal night.

“We then put in a good performance in a win over the Scots and it is a case of bouncing back now out here in Italy. We were in the games against Ireland, England and France, but fell away after the hour mark.

“We probably weren’t fit enough then, but if we can stay in the fight we’ve got a really good chance out here.”

The Welsh players were probably undercooked going into the Six Nations having played so little rugby during the COVID lockdowns. Fackrell was at least able to get some rugby under his belt, but it was all away from the Arms Park.

“We hadn’t had much rugby over the previous two years, although fair play in Cardiff they sent me out to play for Ystrad Rhondda in the Championship and then up to RGC 1404 in the Premiership,” he said.

“I had six games for RGC and it meant I’d had 13 games in the build up to the Six Nations. The Championship was much more physical, with boys from the Valleys and down Swansea way looking for some rough and tumble and wanting to hit each other, but there was much more skill involved in the Premiership.

“There are a lot of good players who have dropped down from being professionals involved at that level. That helped me to make the step up to international level with the U20s.”

He left a lasting impression in north Wales and has since signed a contract to return for the 2022-23 Premiership campaign.

“It was difficult moving away and I struggled a little bit to start with. It was sprung on me a little bit, but it was great for my personal development,” he added.

“They were really keen to get me back and I’m very happy to do that and give it a really good crack. Having a coach that believes in you is massive and RGC play the style of rugby that suits me.”

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