Williams eyes Lions and 2011 World Cup
January 4, 2009
Martyn Williams is hoping for a third Lions tour at the end of 2009 © Getty Images
Cardiff Blues and Wales openside Martyn Williams has admitted that he was taken by surprise after Wales coach Warren Gatland earmarked him for the 2011 World Cup. Williams was coaxed out of international retirement by Gatland at the tail-end of 2007, with Williams playing an instrumental role in Wales' 2008 Grand Slam.
"I was quite shocked when Warren first mentioned that about 2011," Williams told Wales on Sunday. "If you look at someone like Colin Charvis, who is still playing at 36, it is possible. And if you look at the English side in the last World Cup there were a lot of players in their mid-30s. "I will just turn 36 in that World Cup and it might be a year too far - who knows?
"But I am fortunate the union conditioners, Mark Bennett and Craig White, are some of the world's best. So maybe I will make it.
Williams trudged off with a shoulder injury during the Blues' New Year's Eve loss to the Ospreys, but is hoping to be fit for their Heineken Cup games with Calvisano and Gloucester. His influence at club and international level has increased dramatically as the Blues have become a dogged unit in Europe, and he has no plans to end his career any time soon.
"I am not looking at a specific time to finish playing rugby. My current contract with the Blues is up at the end of next season and we will have to reassess what happens from there. But at the moment I feel physically as good as I have ever been. And, mentally, having been retired for all of four weeks, getting a second wind has refreshed me."
Williams has set his sights on a successful 2009, beginning with the Blues' attempts at reaching a second-successive Heineken Cup quarter-final and Wales' Six nations defence before potentially ending with his third British and Irish Lions tour.
"At the end of the 2005 tour I was wondering whether I would still be playing in 2006, let alone thinking about going on the Lions tour of 2009," he said. "But it is amazing how quickly it comes around. I would love to start a Test match for the Lions tour but I don't see it as unfinished business.
"I am proud of the fact I have been on two tours because just getting into the party is tough enough. Playing for the Lions is in the back of any player's mind, especially with the Six Nations coming up.
"But you have to look at it as a bonus. If you get that call after the Six Nations then brilliant - and, hopefully, there will be a lot of Welsh boys going on that tour. If we keep performing as we have done I have no doubt that will be the case."
"The loudest cheer at a rugby game, away from social media gimmicks, pumping music and pyrotechnics will always be for a try." Tom Hamilton on the Twickenham atmosphere
"The only thing that will stop this England team from becoming a great team is themselves. They need to ask themselves 'what can we be?'" The Phil Vickery column
The latest Monday Maul looks at the hectic final weekend, the Lions hangover, the superb Mike Brown and the 'selfie'
"At the crux of this England team is a lack of fear, they are not afraid to throw playbooks out of the window." Tom Hamilton reports from Twickenham