This impressive back-row made her Test debut aged just 17

Cardiff Blues and Wales Women back-row Manon Johnes

Date of birth 17 December 2000 Born Cardiff Region Blues Country Wales Position Back-row

When did you first play?

I started playing tag rugby at seven at CRICC, where Jamie Roberts and Rhys Patchell started. When I had to stop playing with boys, I joined Cardiff Quins and I also played for my school, Llandaff.

What positions have you played?

At first I played hooker, then I moved to the back row. I like playing there. I think it’s too structured in the backs and you get to do a bit of everything in the back row. Openside is probably my favourite.

Which players did you grow up admiring?

Sam Warburton is the obvious one. Sioned Harries, Rachel Taylor – anyone really in my position and playing at a high standard.

Who’s been the biggest influence on you?

I wouldn’t say one person – I’ve always wanted to achieve and set goals – but one of my PE teachers, Gwennan Harries, who used to play football for Wales, has always been very supportive.

You’ve played senior regional rugby this season and made your Test debut at 17 in November…

I was shocked! I’d been involved in the senior sevens set-up – I went to Australia last year – but 15s has always been the dream. I didn’t think it would come so soon.

The main difference has been the physicality. It’s much easier to get the ball and jackal in U18 rugby; at senior and international level you get over the ball and the next second you’re on your bum. It’s challenging but will come with experience. The set-piece is a big step up too; it’s all about technique but I felt more comfortable the more I played.

What are this year’s goals?

I’d like to keep playing club rugby; I’ve played with those girls for a long time. My main goal is to play in the Six Nations.

What about sevens?

Sevens is great for developing skills like passing and speed. I’d be very happy to play sevens again but I probably prefer 15s.

RW VERDICT: Currently working on A Levels in French, geography and RE, as well as a Welsh Baccalaureate, Johnes wants to study volcanology. She’s had an explosive start to her Wales career and is set to be on the scene for a long time.

This article originally appeared in the February 2019 edition of Rugby World magazine.

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