Wales' Liam Williams ready for 'challenge against the best' on Twickenham return
Liam Williams is set for a Twickenham return next Saturday - five months after crying alone in the changing room as his World Cup dream cruelly ended.
The Wales full-back will relish opposing "spiky character" Mike Brown, performing in his trademark no-fear style and giving everything in an attempt to keep alive hopes of winning this season's RBS 6 Nations title.
Victory over England at Twickenham - a feat Wales have achieved three times during Warren Gatland's coaching reign - would then leave Williams and company needing to beat Italy in Cardiff seven days later, therefore guaranteeing Six Nations silverware.
Scarlets star Williams admits nerves will kick in during the next week, and he can only hope for a happier Twickenham finale than what he experienced last October.
Williams suffered a broken foot just eight minutes from the end of Wales' closing World Cup group game against Australia.
He had already overcome a similar injury earlier in the year and regained full fitness to be part of Wales' World Cup campaign, but this time, there was no way back - and he knew it.
"I knew straight away it (foot) was broken because of the pain," Williams said.
"On my way off I asked Biggs (Wales fly-half Dan Biggar), 'What's the difference between me and a Test match? A Test match lasts 80 minutes!'
"I went into the changing room and had a bit of a cry because I knew my World Cup was over even before having the X-ray to confirm the break.
"Normally, you go back out to sit with the other lads, but because the injury was so close to the end of the game I sat in the dressing room on my own.
"It was a pretty dark place. I put my head in my hands and had a bit of me-time and a bit of a cry."
While Wales then began preparations to face quarter-final opponents South Africa, Williams contemplated another lay-off - it was to be more than three months until he played again - as the latest victim of Wales' painful World Cup injury jinx.
But the 24-year-old is now back, fighting fit and having been among Wales' most consistent performers during an opening Six Nations draw in Ireland, followed by wins against Scotland and France.
England full-back Brown has proved similarly effective, and both players are likely to be in the thick of things amid a white-hot Twickenham occasion given added spice by Wales' World Cup triumph over their fierce rivals earlier this season.
"He (Brown) is quite a spiky character, but if I am selected I will look forward to the battle," Williams added.
"I don't see why I would take a backward step. It's 15 against 15, and I always feel ready to challenge myself against the best.
"I don't really know the guy. I'm not sure he's one to have a chat with, really. He was angry about what happened to England in the World Cup, but that's sport."
As a former scaffolder used to working 300 feet up on blast furnaces, it should come as no surprise that Williams' forte in Test rugby's critical aerial battle is arguably his biggest strength.
"My attitude is if I can do something for the team, then it has to be done," he said.
"It doesn't matter if I'm going to get hurt, or if I am going to hurt someone else. If I have to go up in the air and take that high ball, or have to tackle someone, that's fine. It doesn't bother me at all.
"As a kid, I was always jumping about playing in goal or throwing myself around climbing trees. It was the way I was.
"I wasn't quite that reckless when I started scaffolding, because at first I didn't really like heights, but I got used to it. I would be over the top of a blast furnace, 300 feet from the ground, just looking down at the floor.
"I don't really get nervous before a game, or at least not until the morning of a game. But this is different, and I will be nervous all week.
"England are different to the team that played at the World Cup because they have a new head coach. I think they have tweaked a few things. Obviously, we will be looking at them, but if we get our own house in order then there isn't an international team that we can't go out and beat."