Liam Williams hoping to be the entertainer on and off the pitch

Liam Williams hoping to be the entertainer on and off the pitch as the Lions look to build bonds and tactics ahead of South Africa tour

  • Liam Williams is hoping he can be the entertainer for the Lions this summer 
  • The squad have worked on building bonds and tactics at their Jersey camp 
  • Williams organised a FIFA tournament with a cup engraved for the winner
  • The full-back was at the heart of one of the great ties at Eden Park in 2017

In Jersey entertainment on and off the field is high on the Lions’ agenda this year – with full-back Liam Williams planning to be at the heart of both.

At their Jersey camp this past fortnight the Lions have worked and played hard, trying to build bonds and a style of play that melds four nations’ ideas in double-quick time.

And whether approaching in-house gaming tournaments or attacking moves to fox the Springboks, fun is at the heart of their philosophy.

Liam Williams is hoping to be the entertainer on and off the pitch during the Lions’ Tour

‘If it’s on to go, then we are going to have a go,’ said Williams who like the rest is trying to cram the new attacking playbook designed by attack coach Gregor Townsend into his mind.

‘Every individual is completely different in how they learn. I could sit on a laptop for 10 hours a day and it just won’t stick in so I need to be doing it on the training pitch.

‘Others can draw stuff down or go on the laptop. For me it is about doing it. We went through bits last week but it was more of a conditioning week.

‘This week has been all set piece and calls, so trying to get those calls stuck into my head.

‘It will take us more than a couple of weeks to get that spot on. I have been calling some of the calls we have with Wales, the Scottish boys have been calling some of their calls.

Fun is at the heart of the Lions’ philosophy to both training and off-the-field activities

‘It is exciting from seeing the whole new playbook in team meetings but to put that into practice it will take a couple of weeks.

‘I don’t want to go into too much detail, but we’re looking to spread the ball as well, whether that be through that backs or even through the forwards.’

It all came together so gloriously for Williams and the Lions four years ago at Eden Park – the Welshman setting up one of the great tries in the first Test against the All Blacks.

‘It keeps popping up on Instagram! So I’m “oh not again! Oh go on then!” Williams smiled before running through how the length-of-the-field classic unfolded.

‘It all happened so quick. Anthony Watson passes me the ball and I see Kieran Read out of the corner of my eye. It’s just instinct I guess. There’s a bit of space, I thought I’m going to need to go. Step in and then, palm off Aaron Cruden.

‘Ben Te’o made a good block on Sonny Bill. I think that’s the biggest bit or I’m getting absolutely smashed. So cheers Ben!

‘Then my legs went a little bit and I had to wait for Foxy (Jonathan Davies) to come up and help! Then the boys were just great to finish it off – Sean O’Brien over the line.’

Williams set up one of the great tries in the first Test against the All Blacks four years ago

Having sparked that try it is apt Williams is the squad member in charge of entertaining the Lions.

With strength and conditioning coach Huw Bennett he has an important role trying to keep the tourists occupied in the oddest of Covid-era tours.

Amid golf trips, paddle-boarding, sinking pints, watching the Euros and intense training sessions, the players took part in a FIFA football gaming tournament this week – Williams even sourcing a cup to be engraved for the winner.

If anything Williams thinks a tour with restricted movement will tie the Lions closer together.

‘I think it’s a bit easier if you ask me because we spend a lot of time in and around the hotel,’ he added.

‘We’re not allowed in each other’s room but the team room is a place where you can have a game of cards, have a coffee and chat with the boys.

‘We’ll have to book out places for us to eat or if it’s just going to the beach then obviously our security guards will be there and we’ll have to be socially distanced.

‘And then in house I’ll help out as much as I can, but at the end of the day we’re here to win a Test series.’

The full-back thinks restricted movement due to Covid will bring the squad closer together

On that note, Williams cannot wait to kick-off against Japan this Saturday in Edinburgh. A foot issue meant he has only played once – back in April – since winning the Six Nations with Wales.

‘I can’t wait to get to the game,’ said Williams who starts at full-back at Murrayfield.

‘Japan will play a lot. They played against the Sunwolves a week ago or two weeks ago and they kept the ball hell of a lot. They did in the World Cup too, they played some great rugby.

‘They’ll be a threat to us in the weekend and I’m sure we’ll be blowing, but hopefully we can ourselves over the line.’

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