Howley hopes for Williams u-turn
March 16, 2011
Shane Williams scored the last of his 53 Wales tries against Scotland © Getty Images
Wales assistant coach Rob Howley hopes that winger Shane Williams has not played his last Six Nations game.
The 34-year-old will miss Saturday's clash with France in Paris due to a knee injury sustained in last weekend's win over Ireland and intends to call time on his international career at the end of the Rugby World Cup.
Howley believes that Wales' record Test try-scorer remains at the peak of his powers however.
"We will miss Shane's creativity in Paris - his ability to turn defenders inside out and make something out of nothing are priceless assets," he said. "When he is on the ball something is going to happen, and that will be missed on Saturday.
"I have been talking to Shane in the last couple of weeks, and I hope that he has not played his last game in the Six Nations. He has got the World Cup and the summer games coming up, and from all the physical data we are getting from him in training - his speed, the first five and 10 metres time - he is one of our quickest backs, if not the quickest.
"I am sure there is plenty of fuel left in his tank. Any side in world rugby will miss Shane - we hope he changes his mind."
After this weekend, Wales' next game is a June 4 appointment with the Barbarians in Cardiff, followed by August World Cup warm-up games against England (twice) and Argentina.
Howley has praised Williams' contribution to the squad and also to the younger wingers, notably Leigh Halfpenny and George North, and compared him to Welsh legends Gerald Davies and JJ Williams.
"Shane's impact in the last couple of months has been immeasurable. He has had a huge influence on the young wings and his attitude has been spot-on," Howley said. "He will be sorely missed when he does retire. It is a personal decision for him, and only he can make it after discussions with his family.
"The way his body is, he is still right up there with the top wings in world rugby. You can only compare Shane with the greats of the past like Gerald Davies and JJ Williams. He is world-class, just look at the tries he has scored. He is frightening.
"We have to respect his views and can only ask him the question, giving him the reasons why we think he should stay on. We will talk about the positive aspects of his game, the physical data and the way he is playing. You are a long time retired."
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