British and Irish Lions 2013: Shane Williams admits shock at late Lions call-up
The former Wales wing surprised by call but insists he is fit and raring to go ahead of Tuesday clash with the Brumbies
Sunday 16 June 2013
British and Irish Lions’ latest call-up Shane Williams has spoken of his shock at receiving a surprise call from the Lions camp summoning him to Australia from his home in Japan.
The 36-year-old retired from international Test rugby 18 months ago, but he will line-up on the wing for the Lions once again as he has been named in the starting XV to face the ACT Brumbies on Tuesday.
He will join fellow late arrivals Billy Twelvetrees, Brad Barritt and Christian Wade in the back-line, with the latter two yet to arrive in Australia as they travel from America and Argentina respectively.
But for Williams, it is another chance to pull on the famous red shirt for a third consecutive tour, having featured in the Test squad in 2005 and 2009.
He arrives Down Under as injury cover for fellow Welsh winger George North, who has been struggling with injury and is a concern ahead of the first Test on Saturday.
"I had a phone call to see whether I would be able to help them out because there are a couple of injuries in the squad," Williams told talkSPORT.
"There was no chance I was going to say no, to be honest with you. It was completely out of the blue. I never thought I would ever get this opportunity again, but if me contributing on Tuesday is going to help the Lions squad be successful in the three Tests then that is what I am here to do.
"I am here to provide any help they need to be successful in the Test series.
"Rob Howley (Lions assistant coach) phoned me. It is still sinking in. I am over the moon, and what I will do on the field is give my 100% effort and commitment and do whatever it takes to help the team out.
Another Welshman, Jamie Roberts, is another serious concern after he picked up a hamstring injury in the victory over the New South Wales Waratahs on Saturday. While Warren Gatland awaits the results of his scan to reveal the extent of the injury to Roberts, Williams has no fitness concerns of his own despite plying his trade for the latter years of his career for the Mitsubishi Dynaboars in Japan.
"I have been playing in Japan over the last 12 months,” added Williams. “Fitness is not going to be an issue. If I had any doubt whatsoever that I wasn't capable or good enough then I would have said no, because there is no way I will let the Lions down."
Wales’ all-time leading try-scorer is set to leave the squad on Wednesday as he is due to cover the three-test series for radio, but he will have one last international appearance following his final game for Wales against Australia in December 2011.
"It is the pinnacle of any player's career. I always wanted to play for Wales, and I didn't ever consider I would be good enough to play for the Lions," Williams added.
"You really don't think you will be among the legends like Willie John McBride, Gareth Edwards, Gerald Davies, all those legends. To be associated with the Lions is the greatest honour a rugby player could have."
Gatland, who coached Williams during his tenure as Wales head coach which he will return to following the tour, admitted that the Lions were a little short on the wings due to injuries and players needing a rest.
"We just said we needed Shane for one game,” admitted the New Zealander. "We spoke to Shane and said the proviso is he comes in Monday, trains, plays on Tuesday and he leaves the squad on Wednesday. He was perfectly happy with that.
"The accolades have been given to Shane. He played in the last Lions Test match against South Africa, when they won. He's in pretty good nick.
"We know that he is fit and training, and I am sure he will come and do the jersey proud and do himself proud."
Despite the surprising call-up, and the fact that seven of the starting XV were not selected in the original squad, Gatland refuted the idea that the Lions are sacrificing this game in what could be their toughest game outside of the Tests during the tour.
"There is no way we are going out on Tuesday sacrificing a game. The motivation is there," he added.
"I am sure those players who take the field on Tuesday will be incredibly motivated to want to continue this tour unbeaten, and there is still that opportunity for players on Tuesday to put their hand up and say they want to be part of that Test XV or Test 23.”
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