A rising star within the modern-day game, lock Christ Tshiunza only took up rugby as a way of making sure he was still spending time with his schoolmates. Now, the 6ft 6in forward is realising not only his dream, but also his undoubted potential.
Born in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo in 2002 when the country was gripped by a second national war, his father Felix took him, his wife, their four daughters and youngest son Christ to Wales in 2010.
Living in Splott, then Llandaff the Tshiunzas initially spoke no English – but 11 years on their youngest won his first cap for Wales in an Autumn Nations Cup game against Fiji at the Principality Stadium.
Now Tshiunza has completed a remarkable set of debuts; playing his first games for Wales Under 20s, Exeter Chiefs, Exeter University and the Wales national team, in that order, in a matter of months.
Aged 13 he joined Whitchurch – having taken up rugby as a joke the year before – and was soon selected for Cardiff Schools Under 15s.
Playing for Whitchurch and Rhiwbina, Tshiunza was earmarked as a hot talent. Cardiff took him into their academy, but with the help of their university links, Rob Gibson and Rob Baxter whisked him away to Exeter.
He made his first team debut for Chiefs in the opening game of the 2021/22 season at Leicester Tigers and not long after was called into the Wales squad by Wayne Pivac, making his full Test debut coming off the bench against Fiji at the Principality Stadium then going on to feature in the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France.