By Sarah Mockford, Rugby World Features Editor
IT’S THE end of an era. The days of Shane Williams delighting crowds all over the world with his dancing feet, jinking runs and turn of pace are over now that he’s played his final Test for Wales, his country losing 24-18 to Australia at the Millennium Stadium.
The legendary winger did manage to bow out in style, however. It was his 87th Test in a Wales shirt (he has also played in four Tests for the Lions) and he touched down for his 60th try in international rugby with the final move of the game. As the man himself said: “I couldn’t have scripted it better.”
It may not have been the victory he was so hoping to end his international career with, but when he rounded the Wallaby defence and touched down with a flourish he received the biggest cheer of the day. Chants of ‘Shane, Shane’ reverberated around the stadium and tears streamed down his face in the post-match interview as it all hit home.
It’s a shame that his like may never be seen again on the world stage. People of his diminutive stature are now more likely to be overlooked in favour of bigger, stronger players, but Williams has proved that size doesn’t matter as he’s outfoxed far bigger opponents and produced skills of such a sublime nature that few can replicate them. He is truly one of a kind and Ospreys fans will be delighted that he plans to run out for his region for at least a couple more years.
Now he’s hung up his international boots, we asked Williams for a few key moments in his career…
The New Zealand pool game at the 2003 World Cup. It was probably the game that restarted my international career. In that respect it has a lot of meaning, and it was a great game to watch. I was given that opportunity and I was lucky enough to take it. I’ve not looked back since, so it’s the most important.
It’s not hard to pick this one. The try I’ll never forget is my first one for Wales, against Italy in 2000. I finished off a passing sequence – Mark Taylor put me through a hole – so it’s not the most extravagant try I’ve ever scored. I’ve been lucky to score a lot of tries, but that one is the one that always jumps up at me.
Individually, being named IRB Player of the Year in 2008. That was an incredible feeling – not many people have got that opportunity. I’ve played in great games with great guys, but when you win a trophy like that and get that record of achievement it makes all the hard work worthwhile.
Nothing really. Things haven’t always gone my way but I wouldn’t change anything in my career. I was out of favour (with Wales) for a while and at the time I felt that was unjustified, so if I went back in time I’d try not to feel so sorry for myself.
I’m not very greedy and I’m very happy with the career I’ve had, so I wouldn’t change much, not even the low points.
Best advice you’ve ever been given
Just to play with a smile on your face and don’t take things too seriously. If anybody asks me, that’s the advice I always give.