Wales promote Scott Williams to starting line-up for England clash to provide width

February 11, 2017
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The Scarlets centre would rather go round his man than through him, which is why the more banger-racing style of the veteran Jamie Roberts has been relegated to the bench in this Six Nations as Wales look for width and wit over power and punch.

Witness his involvement in two of Wales’ three tries in Rome last weekend – two sidesteps before sending his midfield partner Jon Davies over the line; a brief but critical delay in his pass that created the space for Liam Williams to score.

Yet dealing with the responsibility of releasing the talent outside him rests easily on his shoulders, even in a week such as this, thanks to an obsession that first gripped him in childhood.

“I have a motorsport business away from rugby. I try and switch off by going down there,” he said. “We build fabricated rally cars.

“It’s something I have been interested in since I was a kid. We specialise in Escort Mark Is and IIs. I have driven them a couple of times and I’ve taken a couple of the Wales guys out on the track. A few boys needed some spare pants afterwards.”

While the selection of Dan Biggar over Sam Davies has caused some consternation in the Principality – Biggar may have experience and a strong defence but Davies offers a more nuanced attacking threat – the debate one place further out is all but done and dusted.

Roberts is on the bench for the third Test in a row after almost a decade as the personification of the Welsh ‘Warrenball’. With Gatland on Lions leave, interim head coach Rob Howley has gone in search of a more varied attack with Williams, literally, at its centre.

Playing the kind of heads-up rugby he likes, he will no doubt lock eyes with a familiar figure across the Principality Stadium pitch this afternoon. Williams has already gone head-to-head with Owen Farrell twice this season, when Scarlets and Saracens looked horns in the pool stages of the Champions Cup. Williams impressed in both games, scoring against the defending champions when they drew in Llanelli.

here is another try that has stuck in the national conscience – against the Red Rose at Twickenham in 2012 to seal a Triple Crown.

Williams had come on for Roberts early in the second half and ripped the ball from Courtney Lawes, turned and span away. He kicked into space, gathered the bouncing ball and dived over the tryline.

“I get reminded about that try all the time,” he said. “I hope I can create some more memories this weekend. I am happy to have another opportunity against England.

“There is a difference between being on the bench and starting, there’s a bit more responsibility, but I am trying to take it in my stride and make the most of every opportunity. You never know when it is your last.”

Wales have lost their last three Six Nations matches against England and Eddie Jones has been stirring the pot this week, insisting on the stadium roof being open and talking of “shenanigans” and the “cunning Welsh”. But Williams says Wales have ignored any jibes from the opposition camp.

“The boys don’t read much into what other people are saying, we just try and focus on ourselves because that is what is important,” he said.

“When there is a full house in the stadium it is the best atmosphere I have played in. It does not matter to me whether the roof is open or closed because the atmosphere is amazing.

“England have shown themselves to be the best team in the world in the last 12 months and it is a massive week for us, one of the biggest games I have played in so far.

“We need to make sure we play at our best to have any chance of winning.”



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