Williams issues rousing challenge to Pivac's Wales

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Shane Williams is hoping Wales can continue on from their Six Nations success.
Shane Williams is hoping Wales can continue on from their Six Nations success.

Shane Williams is challenging Wales to make the rugby world ‘stand up and take notice’ ahead of this autumn’s gruelling set of hotly-anticipated internationals.

Wales are gearing up for a tough-looking set of fixtures against the southern hemisphere ‘big three’ – New Zealand, Australia and South Africa – and Fiji at what is expected to be a jam-packed Principality Stadium.

Williams, who hit a record 58 tries during a thrilling Wales career, is relishing the prospect of the challenge but is aware of the tough task Wayne Pivac’s players will face.

The 44-year-old said: “You’ve got the world champions, you’ve got a team that has just won the Rugby Championship and you’ve got a rejuvenated Australia team that are playing some lovely rugby to contend against. 

“But that’s what your autumn games are about, you’re there to test yourself against the best in the world. “You’ve also got Fiji there as well that are physical, who have got some of the best players in world rugby and are a team that I know too well are capable of beating Wales. 

“It is tough but that’s what international rugby is about, and if you want to climb up the rankings and if you want people to stand up and notice you then you have to take some of these scalps.”

Williams, a three-time Lions tourist and double Six Nations Grand Slam winner, is particularly excited about the Welsh options on the wing. 

And the former flying winger, who was speaking to support Gareth Thomas running the Royal Parks Half Marathon on Sunday 10 October to raise awareness and understanding around his Tackle HIV campaign, added: “We’re blessed at the moment - we’ve got Josh Adams, who’s just one of the most consistent performers Wales have.

“He is an out and out try-scorer, he knows his way to the try line and he’s just a poacher, he runs the right lines, he works very hard off his wing, and he tends to be at the right place at the right time. 

“Then you’ve got Louis Rees-Zammit who’s young, he’s absolutely tearing it up at Gloucester. He’s doing the business for Wales and had a good Lions tour and he’s still only 20 years of age.  

“We’re blessed in that sense, then you’ve got Owen Lane from Cardiff Rugby, still got George North to come back to fitness as well, plus other good youngsters in Wales.

“And Liam Williams of course, so with the back three in Wales we’re very privileged and lucky to have these boys for this Autumn series.” 

Ahead of the New Zealand fixture on October 30, Williams is anticipating a tough test against Ian Foster’s formidable All Blacks.

The former Osprey ace said: "For me personally, it's always mentally tough, if you're not mentally strong the week leading up to New Zealand, you've lost the game before playing because they've got this aura about them.

"They are a physical team, but their skillset is just unbelievable, second to none in the world.

“But it’s a sell-out capacity, the majority of the fans are going to be wearing red jerseys, the majority of the noise is going to be coming from Wales and hopefully that’ll inspire and help the boys through and get that victory.

“I’ve certainly been waiting all my life for [it] – a lot of people have, but they’re not unbeatable.”

Tackle HIV is a campaign led by Gareth Thomas, in partnership with ViiV Healthcare and the Terrence Higgins Trust to tackle stigma and misunderstanding around HIV. For more information visit www.tacklehiv.org and follow @TackleHIV

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