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Ulster can't afford to let Williams issue fester

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Ulster's Nick Williams during a press briefing

Ulster's Nick Williams during a press briefing

Oliver McVeigh / SPORTSFILE

Ulster's Nick Williams during a press briefing

The Six Nations window can be a difficult time of year for the provincial teams to maintain cohesion and focus.

International players are away for weeks on end in camp, momentum can stall with no Pro12 matches and concentration levels can drift.

For Ulster, the news this week they have launched an investigation into "alleged unauthorised absence" of the brilliant No 8 Nick Williams is a blow to the province during an already tough period.

Williams was outstanding last season, deservedly getting the Pro12 Player of the Year award.

Despite teams looking to shut him down more this year, as well as having huge competition from the excellent Roger Wilson, Williams has still been immensely effective. He is a massive weapon, both in attack, with his carrying, and in defence, with his ability to disrupt the opposition breakdown.

Ulster may have had little choice but to leave him out of tonight's fixture against the Dragons, but not having Williams in your team is only good news for the opposition.

Williams is reported to be back in Belfast, but not in training with the squad yet. Hopefully, he can be re-integrated soon. He is too good a player for Ulster not to have as they get ready to regroup during the Six Nations window and build towards their massive European Cup quarter-final against Saracens.

Irish Independent