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Schoolboy goalkicker Corey Domachowski ready for World Cup debut at prop

24 Aug 2023 4 minute read
Wales’ Corey Domachowski (centre) is tackled by England’s George Martin (left) and Lewis Ludlam (right). Simon Galloway/PA Wire.

Corey Domachowski readily admits that any suggestion of playing prop as a schoolboy would fill him with dread.

A former centre and goalkicker at his local rugby club, a future in the front-row could not have been further from his mind.

But Domachowski is now preparing for his first World Cup as one of three loosehead props selected by Wales head coach Warren Gatland.

“I was playing for Rhondda Schools as a number six or eight, but Chris Jones (coach) was on at me for years to play prop,” he said.

“I would go home home to my mother and cry ‘I’m not going to play prop’.

“At my local club, Gilfach Goch, I always played number eight or centre and I also used to kick goals.

“I converted to prop in my first year of youth rugby at Gilfach. We didn’t have a loosehead, and we had some good players in the back row.

“I put a bit of weight on at the time, and I just wanted to play with the boys. It took off from there, really.

“It was probably the best decision of my life. I was a bit gutted I couldn’t kick at goal any more, but I am not an outside-half, centre or back-rower.

“But if we ever have a penalty goalkicking shoot-out, ‘Gats’ knows the score!”

Sale Sharks

Domachowski moved to Cardiff, making his debut against Glasgow in 2016, and a dominant display against European Challenge Cup opponents Sale Sharks last season thrust him into Gatland’s thoughts.

Barely a month later he was named in an extended World Cup training squad, and his Test debut followed when Wales took on opening warm-up opponents England at the Principality Stadium.

“I take myself back to the middle of last season and if someone had said I would be in this position now, I would have laughed in their face to be honest,” he added.

“I am not here to make up the numbers, and that is the same as everyone else. There is a lot of competition.

“We all know why we are here. We want the number one jersey.

“I have probably taken a lot from the first two caps (against England and South Africa), more than anything in the rest of my career.

“I was a bit frustrated from the England game where I felt we weren’t able to get the scrums we wanted. They probably played a bit smart, noticed we (Domachowski and his fellow Cardiff prop Keiron Assiratti) were both debutants, and used it to their advantage.

“Then we came up against the best pack in the world in South Africa, and I am not hiding away from the fact we came second-best. It was a big test, and we have just got to take learnings from it.”

The day of Wales’ final 33-strong World Cup squad announcement began with Domachowski attending his 88-year-old great-grandmother’s funeral.

Then came the jubilation of gaining selection, but he also found time to speak with his friend and team-mate Assiratti, who failed to make the cut.

“I said to him from where he was at the start of the year – Cardiff asked him to cover hooker at one point – and now he is a Wales international,” Domachowski said.

“Sometimes, you have probably got to take a step back and realise how far you have come.

“He is a great player. You don’t get gifted international honours if you are not good enough.

“I am sure he will bounce back from it, take it as motivation, hopefully use it to his advantage and push on for the Six Nations.”

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