Rugby World Cup 2011

Williams' future on the line

2011-10-06 09:59
Shane Williams

Wellington - Wales wing Shane Williams has admitted his future as an international rugby player could be decided by the outcome of his team's World Cup quarter-final against Ireland here on Saturday.

The 34-year-old try-scoring machine has won 83 caps for his country in a career that has seen him make a name for himself as an electrically-quick, side-stepping player capable of breaking down even the toughest defences.

But the Ospreys stalwart, whose 55 Test tries are a Welsh record, acknowledged the Ireland game could be his last for his country.

"I have said there's a possibility that after the World Cup I may have played my last game," Williams, an anomaly in a rugby world increasingly populated by behemoths, standing as he does just 1.70m (5ft 7in) tall and weighing a mere 80kg (12st 8lb) said after Thursday's team announcement.

"If we don't do well on Saturday, it could be my last game.

"I don't want to get too emotional about it -- I don't want to finish playing rugby for Wales.

"I never want to, but you don't get many wingers playing after 40 and doing well!"

Williams has done well to secure himself a spot on the left wing for Saturday's crunch game.

Having recovered from the thigh strain that kept him out of the team's final two pool matches against Namibia and Fiji, Williams was named alongside in-form teenage wing George North and Leigh Halfpenny in an exciting back three.

Tellingly, Halfpenny shifted from the wing to accommodate Williams, the duo having displaced Lee Byrne and kept the talented James Hook on the bench.

"We are very privileged to have a great back three," Williams said. "We've been doing our fighting on the training paddock to see which back three are going to get there."

Williams added the competition within the rejuvenated Wales squad, captained by dynamic 23-year-old captain Sam Warburton from the openside flank, was unparalleled in his experience.

"I said months before the World Cup started that this certainly was the most exciting Welsh squad I've been involved in -- a mix of experience, with a lot of youngsters coming through at the right time," he said.

"I think we have got stronger as the tournament has gone on.

"There are some great players coming through, so that bodes well for many years to come."

Williams acknowledged the Ireland game, which were Wales to win it would give them only a second-ever semi-final appearance at the World Cup following their last four showing at the inaugural tournament in 1987, was a huge occasion.

"It's a massive game for us, but we are quietly confident," he said. "If it doesn't go right for us on Saturday, we are flying home two days after."


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