Thursday 29 September 2016

Wales star Liam Williams to play some part against Ireland despite lack of game time

Andrew Baldock

Published 02/02/2016 | 16:35

Liam Williams only game time since the Rugby World Cup was 60 minutes against Connacht at the weekend
Liam Williams only game time since the Rugby World Cup was 60 minutes against Connacht at the weekend

Liam Williams looks on course to be involved in Wales' RBS 6 Nations opener against Ireland on Sunday - despite playing barely an hour of rugby since the World Cup.

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Wales assistant coach Robin McBryde said that "everything is good" with Williams following his return from injury for Scarlets in last Saturday's Guinness PRO12 clash against Connacht.

Williams limped out of the World Cup during the pool stage loss to Australia at Twickenham in October, having suffered a foot injury.

And his return to action ahead of the Six Nations is a timely one, given that he offers Wales boss Warren Gatland full-back and wing options, with regular number 15 Leigh Halfpenny currently sidelined while he continues his recovery from a pre-World Cup injury.

Gatland is due to name his team for the Aviva Stadium clash on Wednesday, with Williams and flanker Dan Lydiate currently commanding most attention.

Ospreys flanker Lydiate has been sidelined since New Year's Day due to a shoulder/neck problem, although he has trained with Wales during the past week or so.

"Liam had 60 minutes under his belt, and everything is good with him," McBryde said. "And Dan Lydiate has joined back in full training.

"Things went as well as they could for Liam. He won definitely one of the collisions he was involved in (against Connacht), and he was pretty secure under the high ball.

"It was difficult circumstances for him, but from our point of view he has come through unscathed.

"Whether he is fit enough to start an 80 minutes, we will wait and see, but he is certainly fit enough to play some sort of part."

On Lydiate, McBryde added: "We have to look at each individual and how much game-time they need before they get back to full fitness.

"There is a discussion to be had with Dan. One thing we have seen in a positive light is that he has taken part in our training sessions, which are quite intense.

"He has come through those scenarios. They (training sessions) are not a game, but we have tested each other out, and on the back of that he has come through.

"That will be in the mix when we discuss selection."

Wales captain Sam Warburton, meanwhile, has played just one game since late November - against Calvisano on January 22 - after suffering an ankle injury, with Gatland then opting not to release him for Cardiff Blues' PRO12 appointment with Edinburgh three days ago.

"Sam does not need a lot of game-time and he is straight back up there," McBryde said.

"Warren held him back, and made the decision to keep him with us.

"It was hard to manage last week because we lost the English and French boys (to their clubs) towards the end of the week, which left us with 10 or 11 boys on the Friday and Saturday sessions."

If Lydiate is not considered for Dublin, it is likely that Warburton would move from openside to blindside flanker, with in-form Ospreys number seven Justin Tipuric handed a starting berth.

And such a scenario would hardly weaken Wales, given Tipuric's outstanding displays this term, particularly in the European Champions Cup.

"Justin Tipuric has been an outstanding and consistent performer throughout for the Ospreys," McBryde said.

"He is a hugely-influential link between backs and forwards in the role that he plays for his region.

"'Tips' is very much uncoachable with regards to what you can tell him, because he has that natural instinct as a ball player.

"He has contributed fantastically to the environment here with his knowledge and bringing different ideas to the table.

"So, I can't speak highly enough of him."

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