Olly Kohn flabbergasted by Wales call
6:02pm Friday 25th January 2013 in Sport
OLLY Kohn tonight reflected on the "surreal’’ feeling of being called up by Wales for this season's Six Nations Championship.
The uncapped Harlequins lock will report for duty on Sunday evening.
The 31-year-old was born in Bristol, but he qualifies for Wales through his late grandfather, who hailed from the Rhymney Valley.
His addition to the Six Nations squad reflects an area where Wales have found themselves ravaged by injuries in recent months.
Experienced trio Alun-Wyn Jones (shoulder), Luke Charteris (knee) and Bradley Davies (ankle) are all currently unavailable, while Ian Evans has been battling to overcome a knee problem in time to face opening Six Nations opponents Ireland at the Millennium Stadium tomorrow week.
Wales' interim head coach Howley has an option of switching former Test captain Ryan Jones from the back-row to second-row, although he is currently recovering after dislocating his thumb while on Heineken Cup duty for the Ospreys against Leicester 12 days ago.
For 6ft 7in Kohn, though, the call-up potentially represents an outstanding opportunity to show what he can do at the highest level.
He becomes the third uncapped lock in Wales' Six Nations squad, joining Ospreys forward James King and Newport Gwent Dragons second-row Andrew Coombs, and takes the overall tally to six newcomers alongside wing Eli Walker, plus Cardiff Blues back-row forwards Josh Navidi and Andries Pretorius.
"Receiving the call-up was surreal, and I can't wait to join up with the squad this weekend,’’ Kohn said.
"It is a really proud moment for me and a great opportunity to show what I can do.
"It will be good to meet the squad, get training and hopefully be part of a successful Six Nations campaign with Wales.’’ Although Kohn is an international rookie, he has made more than 130 appearances for current Aviva Premiership champions Quins since joining them from Bristol in 2006.
He signed a one-year contract extension with Quins just a fortnight ago, remaining an integral part of a squad that is pushing for domestic and European honours this term.
"We are delighted that Olly has been called into the Wales squad and look forward to him receiving a first international cap in the forthcoming Six Nations Championship,’’ Quins rugby director Conor O'Shea said.
Howley, in charge of Wales while Warren Gatland prepares for the British and Irish Lions tour to Australia later this year, revealed Kohn had been on his radar.
"We looked at Olly when we initially selected the Six Nations squad, and we have brought him in now as we believe he will be an experienced addition,’’ Howley said.
"He has been performing very well for Quins and has been a feature in their pack.
"He is a strong ball-carrier and dominant at the set-piece, and it will be good to see him in the international environment.’’ Howley is due to announce his team for the Ireland game next Thursday.
Other injured players currently out of the selection equation include fly-half Rhys Priestland, flanker Dan Lydiate and centre Ashley Beck, but the reigning Six Nations champions have star prop Adam Jones available again after he missed Wales' four-Test autumn series due to injury.