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Tshiunza living his World Cup dream

Christ Tshiunza

Tshiunza living his World Cup dream

Christ Tshinuza heads back to the position he used to play at Whitchurch High School for his World Cup debut against Portugal in round two.

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The Exter Chiefs giant has won seven caps to date and all three starts have come with a No 6 on his back. At his club he wore No 7 last season but in Nice he will partner his Chiefs and Exeter University teammate Dafydd Jenkins in the second row.

The two youngsters are among 13 changes to the starting XV form the opening day 32-26 win over Fiji for the clash with Os Lobos. The only survivor up front is No 8 Taulupe Faletau, while Louis Rees-Zammit is the one player starting again in the back division.

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And while it was only four years ago that Tshinuza was playing in the Welsh Schools & Colleges League, he has never forgotten the part played by his schoolmates and teachers in Cardiff.

“Considering in 2010 I didn’t even know what rugby was, being at the World Cup is surreal. Four years ago, I was saying I would love to go to the next World Cup, so I feel like I’m living a dream at the moment,” said Tshiunza.

“I only started playing rugby a bit later on, in school, and if it wasn’t for the people I met in school, I probably wouldn’t be here now.

“When I sing the anthem on Saturday I’ll think about the people who helped me along the way – my school friends I started playing with, my school coach Steve Williams, who took me under his wing. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for those people.”

Tshinuza is still only 21, while Jenkins is the baby of the World Cup squad, charged with the safekeeping of the team’s giant love spoon mascot, at 20. They have been sharing a room and will be arm in arm at the weekend hoping to keep Wales on track for the quarter-finals.

Wales’ twin towers, Christ Tshiunza and Dafydd Jenkins

“We’re room mates and sometimes we just like lay in bed and look over at each other and say ‘What are we doing here? To be 20 years old, what have we done to deserve this?’ explained Tshinuza

“It is still very surreal at the moment, but after this tournament we will look back and be glad we did it together.

“The amount of prep we’ve done for this World Cup, I’ve never done anything like that before in my career. It makes you realise how big a tournament this is, and how serious it is, and how seriously Wales are taking this tournament as well.”

But while he is living his rugby dream, the laws of the game and how he is performing are both still a bit of a mystery to many members of his family.

“Even my family coming to the games now haven’t got a clue what’s going on! They are like ‘Where’s Christ, where’s Christ? Oh, good job, you did something well today’,” he added.

“They don’t know the rules but I am glad they can come and support.”

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