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Rugby World Cup 2011
Williams impressed by Wales strength
ESPNscrum Staff
September 20, 2011
Wales winger Shane Williams scoots in at the corner, Wales v Samoa, Rugby World Cup, Waikato Stadium, Hamilton, New Zealand, September 18, 2011
Shane Williams says Wales are the strongest he has known during his 11-year Test career © Getty Images
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Fresh from their hard-fought victory over Samoa, Shane Williams believes Wales' mental and physical strength is better than at any other time during his stellar 11-year international career.

A week after pushing South Africa to the brink of defeat, Wales dug deep for a priceless 17-10 Pool D victory over Samoa that kept them in World Cup contention and set up a possible quarter-final clash against Ireland.

Williams' 55th touchdown in Wales colours not only clinched the win, but moved him ahead of Ieuan Evans and Gareth Thomas as his country's record World Cup try-scorer with eight tries in eight games.

More importantly, though, it enabled Wales to maintain a route towards the knockout phase accompanied by a simple equation - wins against Namibia, Fiji and probably Ireland equals a semi-final place for the first time since 1987.

"You saw a different side to our game," said Ospreys wing Williams, reflecting on the Samoa success.

"We didn't want to play too much rugby because their defence was very strong. We were determined to continue on from playing well (against South Africa) last week against Samoa, but we made too many mistakes and handling errors, losing the ball.

"But we still won. That's the key thing. The mental and physical strength of this Wales squad is better than any I have been involved with previously.

Williams once again turned up in the right place at the right time to sniff out a try that gave Wales a scent of victory.

And it underlined how vital a player he remains to Wales coach Warren Gatland, even though the 34-year-old has indicated several times that this season will mark his Test rugby retirement.

"Time does catch up with you," he added. "As somebody pointed out to me, I am the oldest on tour. At the moment, I'm still keeping up with the youngsters and enjoying it, although (team-mate) George North is making me feel old."

Asked if he would be available for Wales' post-World Cup Millennium Stadium appointment with Australia on December 3, Williams said: "Let me see how the World Cup goes. I will see how my knees are and how my body is going.

"There are no easy games in World Cups these days. Prior to this World Cup, nobody had seen Romania and Georgia competing so well.

Wales will now hope that injured pair James Hook and Dan Lydiate can make quick recoveries from injuries that forced them off against Samoa.

"I didn't see how James got his injury - I was still looking for my rib on the 22! These types of games are physical and they take it out of you. You do get bumps and bruises.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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