Sunday 21 January 2018

Williams happy to keep battling for Munster place

Munster's Duncan Williams. Photo: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile
Munster's Duncan Williams. Photo: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

John Fallon

Duncan Williams says he knew that James Hart was coming to Munster before he signed a new two-year deal - but facing competition for the No 9 shirt is nothing knew to the Cork native.

The 29-year-old, who came through the Munster academy system, has found the starting Irish scrum-half ahead of him in the pecking order with the Reds.

First there was Peter Stringer, then Tomás O'Leary and more recently Conor Murray but for all that Williams has still chalked up 126 appearances for the province.

He has been superb in Munster's run this season, featuring in 19 games and coming off the bench in all six Champions Cup ties.

Williams made his debut in December 2009 - four months later Murray made his bow but international duty has meant he is still three appearances shy of 100 for Munster.

Williams knows that Murray, like the two Irish international scrum-halves before that, will get the nod to start the big games but he said he knew about the arrival of Hart before he extended his contract.

"I knew the story before I signed it. I've been here long enough now that there has always been competition for places. I think, since I've been here, the starting scrum-half for Ireland for the last 12 years has been here.

"There has always been good competition at nine and it something that I relish. I am not planning on lying down and rolling over so James Hart can come in and take his place easy enough. I am going to fight all the way.

"Since I was five or six, I have wanted to play for Munster. As long as there was something here and I was happy, all I ever wanted to do was play for Munster and I was happy to stay and do that."

Williams was outstanding as Munster continued their great run when hammering Dragons 45-17 at the weekend but knows that he has often had to work hard to win over supporters.

"I suppose there was probably a collective groan around the province when it (the extension) was announced," he says tongue-in-cheek. "But it was good to get it sorted, earlier in the season than normal too, which was great. I am looking forward to the next two seasons now.

"I would always be confident in my own ability, as anyone else is. It is just a matter of getting a couple of games in a row and getting rid of that rustiness. The more games you play, the better you get. They go hand in hand."

Irish Independent

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