Wales outside back Louis Rees-Zammit is set to make his Rugby World Cup debut next month and believes he is fitter and faster than ever.
The 22-year-old is renowned for his incredible pace and believes that he is quicker than he was last season.
Rees-Zammit was named in Warren Gatland’s 33-man Rugby World Cup squad on Monday and is raring to go in his debut tournament, having already shone for Wales and the British and Irish Lions.
During a clash against the Barbarians in 2021, he was clocked at 24 mp/h (38.62km/h), but he believes he is “definitely quicker” now than last season.
Asked to compare his speed with a year ago, Gloucester star Rees-Zammit said: “I would say I am even faster.
“I feel the fittest I have ever been, and I am just raring to go. In terms of numbers, I am definitely quicker than last season.
“Being so fit, it just allows you to repeat and repeat all day. Being able to do it once or twice isn’t good enough. I have got to maintain that and keep doing it.
“The (training) camps in Switzerland and Turkey lived up to expectations. They were the hardest things I have ever done.
“I feel so fit now. I am ready to perform; I am ready to play. We are all ready to go.
“We’ve got some very quick players – Rio (Dyer), Josh (Adams), the whole back-three, Mason Grady is rapid as well, and the nines are very quick. We have got great pace in this squad.”
Fellow outside back Adams has proved a source of inspiration to Rees-Zammit, who remembers watching his teammate at the last World Cup in Japan.
Adams scored seven tries in the tournament four years ago, a tally only bettered by Jonah Lomu, Bryan Habana and Julian Savea in one World Cup campaign.
“Josh helps me massively, doing analysis and making me learn the game better,” Rees-Zammit added.
“He has done it all, he has been on a (British and Irish) Lions tour, and he has been top try-scorer at the World Cup. He is an unbelievable player.
“I was 17 at the last World Cup, watching him score loads of tries while I was at Hartpury College. He was unbelievable.
“He was the stand-out player at the last World Cup. To be able to train and play with him day in, day out is so special.”
Much like his speed on the pitch, Rees-Zammit’s rise in professional rugby has been equally rapid.
He heads into his maiden World Cup campaign with 27 Test caps for Wales and as a British and Irish Lions tourist after featuring for the side during the 2021 tour to South Africa.
“I feel quite experienced at such a young age,” he said. “Being on a Lions tour was amazing, but being at a World Cup for your country is really special as well.
“I would never have thought I would have gone to a World Cup, so I am absolutely over the moon to have this opportunity. I’ve got to take it now.”