Gatland sounds emotional rallying call
January 30, 2011
Wales speedster Shane Williams is set to retire after this year's Rugby World Cup © Getty Images
Wales boss Warren Gatland has urged his side to win this year's Six Nations for veteran Shane Williams.
The 33-year-old wing wizard is set embark on his final Six Nations campaign having signalled his intention to retire after this year's Rugby World Cup and Gatland believes a Championship triumph would be a fitting send-off for their record try-scorer.
"I couldn't think of any better way to reward Shane this year than with another Six Nations crown and for us as a team to perform well in the World Cup," Gatland told the Wales on Sunday newspaper. "He deserves it - the game needs someone like Shane Williams with his stature being able to make it into the top level. He has been a fantastic performer for Wales, our catalyst for a number of things."
Williams suffered a dislocated shoulder during the autumn international series and has played just 24 minutes of rugby since following a cameo appearance during the Ospreys' Heineken Cup victory over Toulon last weekend. But Gatland has stressed he would have no problem throwing Williams straight back into the mix for Wales' opening Six Nations clash against England at the Millennium Stadium on Friday night. "Fitness wise he is in good shape, he is fast, he sharp and he plays with confidence," said Gatland.
In related news, Wales centre Jamie Roberts has backed his side to get back to winning ways against England as he prepares for a long-awaited return from a wrist injury. "That first win in any Six Nations campaign is the one you want," he said. "Winning builds confidence within a squad and there's no better team to get it against. It would be great to beat England.
"There's no two ways about it - international rugby is about results. Any player or coach will tell you that. International rugby matches are won by fine margins. It's all about key decision-making at the right times and nailing those critical moments.
"Warren has obviously alluded to them the past few seasons. A kick to touch has gone astray here and there, we haven't stay focused for 80 minutes, while being clinical is so important. Critical turning points, when they come after 65-70 minutes are going to be so important against England," said Roberts who hasn't appeared for Wales since scoring a against New Zealand in Hamilton last June.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
"These little deft touches, the nuances O'Driscoll has perfected are what Ireland will miss most." Tom Hamilton on Brian O'Driscoll's final Test in Dublin
Last year's thrashing at the hands of Wales was not the first time England have fallen to their rivals. Scrum Sevens looks at whether they have bounced back the following year
With just two rounds left in the 2014 championship, the intensity cranks up a notch at Twickenham. Tom Hamilton previews the weekend's action
"I had a perfect record against England as did a few other Welshmen. England always seemed to bring the best out of us." John Taylor on the age-old rivalry