Lions hand Shane Williams shock call-up
June 15, 2013
Shane Williams is back in the red of the Lions © Getty Images
British & Irish Lions boss Warren Gatland has included former Welsh winger Shane Williams in his side for the game against the Brumbies on Tuesday.
The call-up is one of the biggest shocks in recent Lions history with the winger currently turning out in Japan. He is in Australia on media duties, but with the tourists facing their first Test match on Saturday, Gatland has drafted in the diminutive Welsh flyer to face the Brumbies.
Williams last turned out for Wales after the 2011 World Cup and opted to call time on his rugby career at the end of the 2011-12 season. But an offer from Japan prompted a change of heart and he will now pull on the famous red jersey once again having played on both the 2005 and 2009 tours.
"We just said we needed Shane for one game," Gatland said. "We spoke to Shane and just 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."
Williams, who scored a record 58 tries in 87 Tests for Wales and toured with the Lions in 2005 and 2009, is due to be a radio summariser for the Test series. "It was completely out of the blue. I am more shocked than you are," Williams told talkSPORT today. "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.
"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. I get into Sydney on Monday morning, and I am training at about half past 10."
Elsewhere, Rory Best will captain the team against the Brumbies in a completely different line-up from the one that faced the Waratahs on Saturday. England duo Brad Barritt and Christian Wade are both thrown in despite receiving call-ups in the past 24 hours while Rob Kearney is named at fullback. Billy Twelvetrees partners Barritt in the centres with Williams on the other flank. Stuart Hogg and Ben Youngs are named at half-back with Toby Faletau anchoring the scrum at No.8.
Justin Tipuric is named at openside with Sean O'Brien completing the back-row. Richie Gray and Ian Evans link up in the locks while Matt Stevens, Best and Ryan Grant form the front-row.
Gatland is upbeat about his team's prospects against a Brumbies side that have already booked their place in this season's Super Rugby play-offs. "There is no way we are going out on Tuesday sacrificing a game. The motivation is there," he added.
"I am sure those players who take the field on Tuesday will be incredibly motivated to want to continue this tour unbeaten, and there is still that opportunity for players on Tuesday to put their hand up and say they want to be part of that Test XV or Test 23.
"Everyone has to have the belief that you can go out and perform on Tuesday, put your hand up and get selected for next Saturday. We've kept our momentum, and it has been really pleasing how the players have done that and responded to the challenge.
"I am sure the players who take the field on Tuesday will feel a massive responsibility to go out there and continue what we've been doing."
Lions: R Kearney; C Wade, B Barritt, B Twelvetrees, S Williams; S Hogg, B Youngs; R Grant, R Best (capt), M Stevens, I Evans, R Gray, S O'Brien, J Tipuric, T Faletau
Replacements: R Hibbard, A Corbisiero, D Cole, G Parling, D Lydiate, C Murray, O Farrell, S Zebo.
Warren Gatland counts the cost of the British & Irish Lions' injury toll
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