Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Rugby

Tomas Francis braced for tough test as Wales look to end England run

Lego fan Tomas Francis will be tasked with providing firm foundations for Wales in Saturday's RBS 6 Nations clash against England.

The York-born, Exeter prop - who qualifies for Wales through his grandmother - is one of two changes from last weekend's victory over Italy to face the Six Nations title holders in Cardiff.

And the 24-year-old, who does not make the journey home during Wales match weeks, has revealed the hobby he enjoys during h otel down-time.

Not surprisingly for a former engineering student, building cars are his speciality - albeit Lego ones - with Francis piecing one together every week. Ahead of England, he is working on a Le Mans-type model.

"When I come up (to Wales) for the whole week, I don't travel home, so I spend a lot of time in the hotel and it is good to get my mind off the game sometimes," he said.

"I decided that I wanted a hobby during the autumn (Tests). I make one car every week, and I have been involved in every home game so far this season.

"I did mechanical engineering, so I have always liked the building side of things."

Francis will line up against his Exeter team-mate - England wing Jack Nowell - this weekend, with the pair currently sporting similar unconventional hairstyles, although Francis admits that is pretty much where any comparison stops.

"We go to the same barber," he said.

"There are quite a few wacky haircuts at Exeter. It's all about making your mark, isn't it?

"In rugby, you have a licence to do it. In a normal job, you couldn't get away with some of the haircuts!"

Lego and hairstyles will hardly be a topic of conversation come kick-off time on Saturday, when Francis will have a chance from the start this time around following an outstanding contribution as a replacement in Rome.

And that means an intriguing battle with England's livewire loosehead Joe Marler as both sides look for set-piece dominance.

"It's a big game to be involved in," Francis said.

"I've played against him (Marler) a few times, but not this year. I think the last time would have been in the Six Nations last year. He has got 47 caps, he's a world-class loosehead and he is going to be a tough opponent.

"The set-piece, if you can guarantee your ball from there, it goes a long way to deciding the game. As a prop, you would say that.

"The scrum, a lot of it, is who wants it more."

And Francis can once again expect fierce family support as Wales look to end England's national-record 15-Test unbeaten run.

"They (family) are all mad Welsh fans now," he said. "They come to all the games, and they love it.

"My uncle used to change shirts, depending on who was winning, before I started, but now he sticks with the red one.

"My dad will be there this week. They all went out to Italy last week for my uncle's 50th birthday party."


From Belfast Telegraph