Williams eyes winning send-off
Published 30/11/2011 | 08:02
Shane Williams will not allow emotion surrounding his final Test match appearance to engulf the main objective of helping Wales beat Australia on Saturday.
Williams will bow out at the Millennium Stadium, winning his 87th cap during an international career that has seen him score a Wales record 57 tries, play in three World Cup campaigns and tour twice with the British and Irish Lions.
While the 34-year-old wing is content with his decision to call it a day, he is braced for an emotional send-off, but he also wants it to be a winning one. He said: "We are mature enough to know what we have got to do on Saturday. It's all about playing well, me personally and as a collective. It's about getting things right on the field and winning the game."
He added: "It is not Shane Williams versus Australia, it's Wales versus Australia, and I don't want the fact it is my final game to cloud that. We want to show we have moved on from the World Cup, and beating Australia would be nice."
It is more than 11 years since Williams made his Test debut, and Wales coach Warren Gatland added: "He will leave a huge hole, he is our record try-scorer. It's a great opportunity on Saturday for someone to determine his own destiny and say 'this is my last Test'. It gives us a chance to give him a send-off as a team and for the Welsh public to see him play at the Millennium Stadium for the last time.
"It will be fantastic for him to lead the team out and get the standing ovation he deserves, and for the boys to do his last game for Wales justice by playing well."
Injuries have sidelined locks Luke Charteris and Alun-Wyn Jones, props Adam Jones and Paul James, plus centre Jonathan Davies, for Wales' World Cup bronze medal rematch with Australia. Cardiff Blues forward Scott Andrews makes his first Wales start in place of Adam Jones in a side showing six changes from the World Cup clash in Auckland 40 days ago.
Captain Sam Warburton returns following his sending off in the agonising semi-final defeat to France and the resulting suspension that saw him miss the third-place play-off, while Matthew Rees, the man he replaced as skipper, is among the replacements as Gatland keeps faith with Huw Bennett at hooker.
Half-backs Rhys Priestland and Lloyd Williams also make the line-up, with James Hook and Mike Phillips unavailable because of club commitments in France with Perpignan and Bayonne.
"We know Australia will be tough this weekend," Gatland said. "In the game against the Barbarians (last Saturday) they made a very slow start, but as game went on they looked very strong, especially in the second half."