Louis Rees-Zammit revealed he wears Cristiano Ronaldo-branded boxers and aims to dress like him too after emulating the former Manchester United and Real Madrid superstar’s celebration.
Wales wing Rees-Zammit – who is an avid United fan – scored an early try as Warren Gatland’s side made it back-to-back bonus-point wins at the World Cup.
After crossing the line against Portugal – the country for whom Ronaldo is a legendary sporting figure – Rees-Zammit jumped in the air to mimic his football hero.
‘Ronaldo is my favourite player. I wear his boxers and I dress like him,’ he said.
‘I thought why not do his celebration as well? A few of my mates back home wanted me to do it.
Louis Rees-Zammit revealed he wears Critsiano Ronaldo boxers and wants to dress like him too
He idolises Ronaldo as a Manchester United fan and said the forward is his favourite footballer
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‘They’re massive football fans. I said if I scored, I’d do it for them. We don’t play Portugal very often.’
Wales were given a real fright by what is, on paper, the weakest team in Pool C.
Portugal were outstanding and it looked as if Wales would miss out on a much-needed bonus point for scoring four tries until Taulupe Faletau crossed with the clock in the red.
Faletau’s effort means Wales now have a perfect 10 points from two games ahead of their crunch meeting with Australia in Lyon on Sunday.
Their head coach Warren Gatland on Sunday celebrated his 60th birthday knowing that while his team’s performances in France so far have not been perfect, the end results couldn’t have been better. Now, it’s Eddie Jones’ injury-hit Wallabies next.
Jones failed to emulate Gatland and record his 16th World Cup win as a coach when his team were defeated by Fiji in Saint-Etienne on Sunday.
Fiji – who pushed Wales all the way in round one – were deserving 22-15 winners and their victory means the race for the two qualification spots from Pool C remains wide open.
Australia will have to beat Wales to stay in contention but Jones won’t be able to call on giant lock and captain Will Skelton and juggernaut prop Taniela Tupou.
Rees-Zammit performed Ronaldo’s iconic sui celebration when he scored against Portugal
The 22-year-old starred as his Wales side survived a scare against Pool C’s weakest side
Both missed the Fiji loss with calf and knee issues respectively and have already been ruled out of facing Wales.
‘That’s 10 points and we’re absolutely buzzing about that,’ said Rees-Zammit, whose only disappointment was learning of his beloved United’s 3-1 home defeat by Brighton.
‘We made a few errors in the first 20 minutes, but ultimately we got the five points.
‘It wasn’t our greatest game again, but we know going up against Australia we’ve got to step up a gear again.’
Rees-Zammit said Wales’ confidence is ‘high’ going into round three.
He added: ‘When you don’t get perfect wins there’s always a lot to improve on. That’s great. We need that progress and we have eight days until the next game.’
Wales coach Warren Gatland made 13 changes from the win over Fiji for the Portugal game
Gatland made 13 changes from the opening win over Fiji for Portugal and his team struggled for cohesion. Co-captains Dewi Lake and Jac Morgan both scored in between Rees-Zammit’s and Faletau’s efforts. Of the team which faced Portugal, only Morgan, Faletau and Rees-Zammit are certain starters against Australia.
Morgan was a late addition to the side for Portugal.
The flanker wasn’t even in Gatland’s matchday squad and had done a weights and conditioning session on the morning of the game before he was forced into emergency service.
Morgan replaced Tommy Reffell who was struggling with a tight calf but went on to be named man of the match after producing a combative display.
‘That’s the first time that’s happened. It was a bit nerve-racking being told to go in last minute – they told me about five minutes from the end of the warm-up so it was quite late,’ Morgan said. ‘We’re definitely happy with the opening of the tournament. It’s a great start for us. We will have to step it up. But give credit to Portugal, I thought they were brilliant.’
Faletau’s crucial fourth score against Portugal came after the energetic Europeans had lost Vincent Pinto to what was initially a yellow card for his leg colliding with the face of Wales wing Josh Adams as they competed in the air. Pinto’s card was upgraded to red in the dying moments.
Wales played into Portugal’s hands in the first half, getting sucked into an open game which suited their opponents far more than them.
Gatland also saw centre Johnny Williams yellow carded.
The New Zealander’s big guns will all return for Australia, but Reffell and prop Henry Thomas are fitness doubts. Thomas hasn’t played in France yet due to a hamstring issue.
While acknowledging Portugal’s display gave him a few extra grey hairs for his birthday, Gatland admitted it showed rugby’s so-called ‘tier-two’ nations are making progress.
Half of the Portugal side which faced Wales was entirely amateur. Their captain Tomas Appleton works as a dentist. Both his team, Fiji and Uruguay have impressed in France so far.
‘I thought Uruguay were outstanding (against France). It’s brilliant for the game,’ Gatland said.
Pool C is finely poised with Wales topping the table having won both their opening two games
‘I thought Portugal were fantastic and showed a lot of enterprise. You could argue Uruguay were pretty unlucky in a few situations.
‘It’s important we continue to develop tier-two nations. There might be a situation where we can increase the number of teams in the World Cup to 24 and that would continue to help grow the game. That’s an important aspect.
‘You don’t want top tier nations dominating. You want upsets – as long as I’m not a part of it! I think it’s a real positive going forward to see teams competing and pushing other teams close.’
Wales flew back from Nice to their training base in Versailles on the outskirts of Paris on Sunday to start their preparations for Australia.