Wednesday 22 November 2017

Williams wants Wales patience

Martyn Williams has called for patience when Wales face ireland Photo: Getty Images
Martyn Williams has called for patience when Wales face ireland Photo: Getty Images

Martyn Williams believes patience will be critical when Wales aim to ambush Ireland's Triple Crown ambitions in Dublin on Saturday.

Wales head to Croke Park with flanker Williams at the helm after regular captain Ryan Jones was sidelined by a calf muscle injury.



It is Williams' 95th cap - a new record for a Wales forward - and the seventh time he has led his country.



But statistics do not interest the 34-year-old flanker, who would rather a victory that would send Wales' rollercoaster RBS 6 Nations campaign back on an upward curve.



In all three of their games so far - against England, Scotland and latterly title favourites France - Wales have found themselves alarmingly adrift on the scoreboard.



At Twickenham they trailed England 20-3, against Scotland it was 21-9, and France built a 20-0 interval lead helped by the generosity of two interception tries.



While Wales ultimately ran England and France close, only in the Scotland game did they fight back to win, albeit with a couple of converted touchdowns during injury time.



Those results ended any hope of securing a second Six Nations title in three seasons under coach Warren Gatland, but the runners-up spot could still be attained if they beat Ireland.



Lose to last season's Grand Slam champions though, and next week's Millennium Stadium appointment with Italy would put Wales in the wooden spoon mix.



"I don't think we are playing badly," claimed Cardiff Blues star Williams.



"But we haven't helped ourselves, particularly early on in games, which is well-documented.



"If we play with a little bit of control early on, we are confident we can cause sides problems.



"It is about playing in the right areas, whereas I felt in the first couple of games we maybe tried to score every time we had the ball.



"You have got to be patient at international level because defences are so good.



"We've got a game-plan for Saturday and, if we put that in place, I am sure we will cause Ireland problems."



Williams is among seven survivors from the Wales starting line-up that beat Ireland 16-12 at Croke Park two years ago.



The win secured a Triple Crown - Wales then clinched the Six Nations title and Grand Slam a week later by defeating France - while another success on Saturday would dash Irish Triple Crown hopes.



Gatland has made minimal changes following the 26-20 France loss - one switch in each row of the scrum, including number eight Gareth Delve's call-up for Jones - although some pundits thought Williams might have struggled to keep his place.



"When I came out of retirement a couple of years ago, I was warned by a very experienced player, 'as soon as you have a bad game when you are over 30, people will automatically call for you to be dropped and say there needs to be a change,'" he added.



"So I knew it was only a matter of time before it was going to happen to me. It is water off a duck's back, really.



"People say they want change and that's fair enough, it is just one of those things.



"As a player, you cannot let that influence you in any way or wear you down. You've just got to concentrate on going out and doing the best you can.



"I was very happy with the way I played against England, I thought it went really well.



"I didn't have a good game against Scotland, particularly in the first-half, but after the France match it was very difficult to pick out anyone and say they had a bad game.



"I don't think my form has been that bad, to be honest with you. Obviously, a lot of people do, but provided my team-mates and the coaches are happy that is the main thing."



Gatland has now turned to Williams for principal leadership duties in Jones' absence. When he last performed the role 13 months ago, also because of a Jones injury, Wales scored four tries as they crushed Scotland at Murrayfield.



"I was honoured and excited when Gats asked me," he said. "It wasn't a hard decision - I jumped at the chance.



"It is something I've done a few times before, so I am really looking forward to it. I am happy to step into the role for Wales."

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