Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 20 April 2014

Williams shocked by Lions call

Shane Williams will feature for the Lions on Tuesday against Brumbies

Shane Williams has revealed his sense of shock after being summoned from Japan to play for the British and Irish Lions.

The 36-year-old former Wales wing, who retired from Test rugby 18 months ago, will line up against the Brumbies on Tuesday. He is joined in the threequarter line by two England backs - Christian Wade and Brad Barritt - who have yet to arrive in Australia, while centre Billy Twelvetrees only touched down here two days ago.

Lions head coach Warren Gatland's team for the Brumbies clash features Wade, Barritt, Twelvetrees, Williams, Ryan Grant and Rory Best - who were not among his original 37-man tour squad. "I had a phone call to see whether I would be able to help them out because there are a couple of injuries in the squad," Williams, a Lion in 2005 and 2009, told talkSPORT.

"There was no chance I was going to say no, to be honest with you. It was completely out of the blue. I never thought I would ever get this opportunity again, but if me contributing on Tuesday is going to help the Lions squad be successful in the three Tests then that is what I am here to do. I am here to provide any help they need to be successful in the Test series.

"Rob Howley (Lions assistant coach) phoned me. It is still sinking in. I am over the moon, and what I will do on the field is give my 100% effort and commitment and do whatever it takes to help the team out. I have been playing in Japan over the last 12 months. Fitness is not going to be an issue.

"If I had any doubt whatsoever that I wasn't capable or good enough then I would have said no, because there is no way I will let the Lions down."

Lions head coach Warren Gatland, who coached Williams with Wales between 2008 and 2011, said: "We just said we needed Shane for one game. We spoke to Shane and said the proviso is he comes in Monday, trains, plays on Tuesday and he leaves the squad on Wednesday. He was perfectly happy with that.

"The accolades have been given to Shane. He played in the last Lions Test match against South Africa, when they won. He's in pretty good nick. We know that he is fit and training, and I am sure he will come and do the jersey proud and do himself proud."

Gatland is now hoping to rest some of his more weary bodies against the Brumbies ahead of Saturday's opening clash with Australia.

"We're just trying to be proactive in terms of looking after players," Gatland added. "Players like Sean Maitland - he's had three games in a row. We're trying to give potentially our Test side the best possible chance of being fit, everyone fresh and hopefully trying to win a Test match on Saturday."

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