June International Tours

Andy Williams touches down in Oz

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Wales scrum-half Andy Williams has become the final member of Gareth Jenkins’ touring party to arrive at their training base ahead of the two-Test series in Australia.

Williams appeared from the bench in Bath’s European Challenge defeat to Clermont-Auvergne on Saturday and intends to make the most of his chance ahead of his switch to Newport-Gwent Dragons next season.

His first opportunity could come in Saturday’s opening Test in Sydney.

“I was chuffed to be selected for this tour because you can feel out of it in England,” said Williams.

“This is a great boost for me ahead of going home to Wales with the Dragons next season.

“I can’t wait to be part of the Dragons set-up because after meeting director of rugby Paul Turner I’m convinced they can make me into a better player.

“I can’t wait to meet up with him, the boys and the backs coach Dai Rees.”

But as Williams arrived on Tuesday, Wales were faced with saying farewell to yet another hooker, with Gareth Williams the latest to fall victim.

Williams thought he was suffering cramp after Sunday’s training session, but when the problem failed to clear up he underwent a scan and the results have prompted another disruption to a key area in coach Gareth Jenkins’ plans.

The Cardiff Blues front-rower will fly home at the end of the week and will quickly be followed by Matthew Rees – whose wife Becky is due to give birth to their first child.

Williams’ and Rees’ departures mean a recall for Leicester-bound veteran Mefin Davies and an unexpected call-up for Newport-Gwent Dragons hooker Steve Jones.

Davies, whose last action was with Gloucester in the Guinness Premiership, was named in the original tour party, as was Osprey Huw Bennett, who pulled out before the tour got under way with neck trouble.

Davies also withdrew with rib damage before the party made the journey down under.

But he has now been passed fit to challenge for the hooking berth in the second Test in Brisbane and will effectively take over at the top of the pecking order ahead of the tour’s only constant hooking option, Richard Hibbard, as Rees flies home after Saturday’s opening contest in Sydney.

“Gareth Williams tore his left calf muscle in training on Sunday and a scan confirmed Gareth’s chances of even making the second Test were in doubt,” said Wales physiotherapist Mark Davies.

“That would have been unacceptable and the decision was made to bring in a replacement, and Gareth will fly home at the end of the week.

“Mefin had a rib cartilage injury that made his availability for the first Test doubtful, hence Matthew Rees’ call-up.

“But Matthew is going home on Sunday for the previously stated reason of being back at his wife’s side when she is due to give birth next week.

“Mefin’s fitness has been confirmed and he’ll arrive at the weekend in time to play a part for the second Test.”

 

365 Digital

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