June International Tours

Williams ready for ‘nerve-wracking’ week


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Wales winger Shane Williams says that he is ready for a “nerve-wracking” week as British and Irish Lions boss Ian McGeechan makes the final tweaks for his Test team.

Williams’ name was one of the first to be pencilled in on the list for the 2009 British and Irish Lions tour but over the last year his form has slipped and on the tour he has struggled to find the form for which he made his name.

Williams knows that the test team will be picked on form and not on reputation which means that his Ospreys colleague Tommy Bowe is almost certain to be named on the wing against the Springboks.

That leaves the remaining wing spot to be fought over by Williams, Ugo Monye and Luke Fitzgerald who scored a try against the Sharks while Williams did not.

32-year-old Williams is Wales’ record try scorer but his form with Wales will count for nothing when McGeechan names his match-day 22 for the Springboks next week.

“No one has an idea of who is going to be selected for the Test,” Williams told PA Sport.

“The nerves are always there. It is nerve-wracking but you have got to do your talking on the field.”

The Lions have scored 21 tries on the 2009 tour and Williams is the only winger in contention who has not scored a try even though he has started three matches.

Adding to his worries is that he let a intercepted try slip past in Bloemfontein against the Cheetahs which brought them to within a whisker of losing the match.

“I enjoy my rugby, full stop, whether it is going my way or not.” Williams added.

“If it is not going my way, I am not going to stay in bed and cry myself to sleep for 24 hours, I am going to work on it.”

“It is tough, and I know you have your ups and downs.

“I didn’t expect for one second that this season was going to be anything like last season. Last season was almost a one-off that I couldn’t have dreamt of, really.

“I knew people would be watching and ready to pounce if things didn’t go right.

“I feel the pressure on and off the field, but I make myself become a better player if I can cope with that.

“I just have to give myself a slap in the face sometimes when I have taken a backward step, but I am enjoying it and loving being over here.”

Lions assistant coach Shaun Edwards has urged Williams to keep playing in opposition faces and to show no fear. Despite the lack of tries he could still make the bench as he can cover more than one position in the backline.

“I know things haven’t completely gone my way, but I was determined to go out and just take it easy and let things come,” added Williams.

“The worst thing I could have done was to try pushing something and making mistakes.

“I was disappointed with the interception last weekend. At the time it was gutting, but I wasn’t going to let it dwell on me the whole week.

“Wednesday was all about getting back on the field and getting a bit of confidence back. Even though I didn’t get on the score-sheet, I enjoyed the game.

“Everyone has got a chance to be in the Test selection.”

“Everyone is trying to play their heart out to get a position next Saturday.

“It’s tough rugby out here, and it is not just going to happen by clicking your fingers.

“You can’t go back in your shell, you can’t dwell too much on what has happened. No one is trying to make mistakes or not play to their full potential.

“We are improving as a side. We are not playing perfect rugby by any means, but by the time next Saturday comes hopefully we will be as ready as we will ever be.”

In contrast to Williams situation his Wales team-mate Mike Phillips can almost count himself as a test certainty after some impressive performances the highlight of which was a fantastic solo try against the Sharks.

“I am out there working my socks off, putting everything in,” said Phillips.

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