Welsh great hails Williams

2011-12-04 17:15

Cardiff - Welsh rugby great Barry John paid tribute to both the retiring Shane Williams and Australia's "outstanding" backs after the Wallabies' 24-18 win at the Millennium Stadium here on Saturday.

Australia backed up their World Cup third place playoff win over Wales with a convincing victory as the Tri Nations champions finished 2011 with a flourish.

Will Genia, Lachie Turner and Berrick Barnes ran in tries as the Wallabies scored 21 unanswered points while Wales were a man down after fullback Leigh Halfpenny was sent to the sin-bin for tackling James O'Connor without the ball.

But it was diminutive Wales wing Williams, in his final Test before his international retirement, who had the last word when he jinked out of Barnes's tackle for an injury-time score.

Williams's sixth try in eight Tests against Australia made him the most prolific try-scorer against the Wallabies amongst northern hemisphere players.

"He's a fantastic example for young players coming through and also, for me, an incredible advert for people who aren't 6ft plus," former Wales flyhalf John, widely regarded as one of rugby's greatest No 10s, wrote in his Wales on Sunday column.

"Shane has shown that if you've got the skill and talent, you can be in with a shout of playing international rugby," added John, one of the stars of the British and Irish Lions Test side that won a series against New Zealand in 1971.

John also paid tribute to Williams's defensive qualities, saying they were reminiscent of his Wales and Lions wing contemporary Gerald Davies.

"When Lachie Turner caught that clever cross-field kick from Barnes most people would have thought he was going to get in at the corner.

"But Shane had other ideas, cleverly using his body weight to his advantage to flip Turner over and in to touch a camera frame before the strapping Australian winger grounded the ball.

"It reminded me once again of the great Gerald Davies. Gerald was a master of using all the weight he had ... and it wasn't a lot ... to manage situations to his benefit," John added.

But John said Williams's performance could not disguise "an extremely exciting and positive second half performance from Australia".

"Their halfbacks, Will Genia and James O'Connor, aided by inside-centre Berrick Barnes, were outstanding as they created space and took full advantage.

"Having an extra man wasn't the inspiration for Australia's tries; they were so dominant they would have scored regardless."

John, looking ahead to next year's Six Nations, said: "We have to be optimistic but it must be remembered we have lost our last three matches, and four of our last eight - Australia twice, South Africa and France.

"Yes, they are three of the best teams in the world and they have all been close affairs. But the secret to success at the top level is crossing the try-line at vital times.

"At the moment we're unable to do that and Wales remain a work in progress."


  • Jody - 2011-12-05 08:57

    Great player.

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