Monday 22 January 2018

Williams keeping faith

Martyn Williams will make his final Wales appearance at the Millennium Stadium today -- and then hope he has done enough to feature in a fourth World Cup.

Williams accepts the clock is ticking on a 15-year Test career highlighted by two Six Nations Grand Slams, three British and Irish Lions tours and the captaincy of his country, which he regains against Argentina this weekend.

The Cardiff Blues flanker will be 36 the day before Wales arrive in New Zealand for the World Cup. Whether or not he boards the flight on August 31 is coach Warren Gatland's call. For his part, Williams accepts the chips are down.

Sam Warburton, Wales' World Cup captain-in-waiting, has nailed down the No 7 shirt, while young Ospreys openside Justin Tipuric is viewed by many as a possible selection bolter.

The combined effect is that Williams, who wins his 99th cap today, has got it all to do as Gatland assesses those final few squad vacancies.

"Look, when I was left out the Six Nations squad last season I thought that was me done and dusted," said Williams. "But then I was pulled into the World Cup training squad of 45 and I've had a good summer's training and been given the opportunity again.

"I have trained really hard, I am in the best shape I've ever been, and that makes you want to play even more. The squad has become really tight. Everyone has helped and encouraged each other, and so to have to drop out will be tough to say the least.

"But they can only take 30 to New Zealand, and that is professional sport. All I would say is that the people who aren't in the 30 need to keep their heads up.

"Unfortunately, there can always be injuries, so they may still be called on."

Wales v Argentina,

Live BBC 1, 2.30

Irish Independent

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