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Liam Williams relishing chance to stand in for "brilliant" Wales star Halfpenny


Liam Williams will begin his comeback from injury in Wales' opening World Cup game against Uruguay on Sunday

Liam Williams will begin his comeback from injury in Wales' opening World Cup game against Uruguay on Sunday

Liam Williams will begin his comeback from injury in Wales' opening World Cup game against Uruguay on Sunday

Liam Williams will step into the sizeable void left by a stricken Leigh Halfpenny when Wales launch their World Cup campaign against Uruguay on Sunday.

Halfpenny's World Cup hopes ended when he suffered serious knee damage during a warm-up game against Italy two weeks ago.

Williams, who has recovered from a foot injury in time to face the South Americans, has hailed Halfpenny's incredible contribution to Welsh rugby over recent years.

"I feel really sorry for Leigh," Williams said.

"He's a great player who has been brilliant for Wales over the years. For him to have a cruciate ligament injury and miss the World Cup is terrible luck.

"But I guess it's sport. All I can do is come in and do a job for my country. I am fit, ready to go and really looking forward to the World Cup starting."

Scarlets full-back Williams played no part during Wales' three-Test World Cup preparation programme while he concentrated on regaining 100 per cent fitness, but he added: "I never thought I would miss the World Cup.

"All the medical staff here have been amazing, and for me, it was always about working really, really hard to get back on the pitch."

Looking further down the road, it is possible that Wales could secure a World Cup quarter-final place and the country's soccer team qualify for Euro 2016 on the same day - October 10 - which would give Williams plenty of cause for celebration alongside his good friend and Wales football international Jazz Richards.

"Of course it would be great if we could beat Australia and perhaps qualify for the quarter-finals, and (the Wales football team) could go on to the finals of the Euros," Williams added.

"But there is a lot that needs to happen on our side, in particular, before then.

"This is a tough group, and the way to get out of it is to focus everything on the next game you are playing. If you look two or three weeks ahead, that's when things start to go wrong."

Williams' Scarlets colleague Samson Lee also sets out on the comeback trail this weekend, having not played since suffering a major Achilles injury during Wales' RBS 6 Nations victory over Ireland in March.

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"It wasn't a timescale as such, just goals every week," said tighthead prop Lee, who packs down in the front row on Sunday alongside Paul James and Scott Baldwin.

"It was step by step. I went running and felt good, and then I got back scrummaging and that felt good.

"(Being sidelined) gives you a chance to work on other parts of your body - your upper body strength, your neck. You don't want to lose your neck strength for scrummaging, so I've been working a lot on that.

"I was very nervous getting back into (scrummaging), but with more repetitions I got more confidence."

Lee, who estimates that he has 61 first cousins, enjoys a busy life away from rugby as the proud father of a nine-week-old daughter, but his pastime of ferreting has been put on hold.

"My first goal was first to get back playing, then get back into (ferreting) after that," he added.

"If I am back playing, then I can get out in the fields and catch a few rabbits. The last thing I want is to slip in the field and rupture my Achilles again. I'm trying to keep off it."

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