Within 24 hours of his final appearance on a rugby field, Martyn Williams was found at Crymych RFC in Pembrokeshire to help out with Natwest RugbyForce. Only the third Welsh player to ever reach 100 caps behind close friends Gareth Thomas and Stephen Jones, Williams revealed that the body felt fine whilst the head was slightly sore after rightfully celebrating the night before.
“At my age, 40 minutes is about all I can take so the body feels ok this morning. It was a very emotional day. I never thought I’d be back at the Millennium Stadium in front of such an amazing crowd. Having all the family and friends there as well made it even more special and to join two great friends in reaching 100 caps really means a lot.”
Reaching the century has not been an simple process though for the man who turns 37 in September. In fact, Williams was stuck on 99 seemingly for eternity in what would be a batsman’s neverending nightmare. “After missing out on selection for the Rugby World Cup and then breaking my arm playing for the Blues, I thought the chance had gone. It was hard to take and would not have been nice to finish on 99, but Rob Howley called me up against the Barbarians and I’m truly honoured.”
With Williams heading off into the sunset, Wales are building into an impressive force, looking to continue their rapid ascent against Australia starting this weekend. Next in line to his throne are the impressive Sam Warburton and behind him Justin Tipuric, a player that Williams describes firmly as “world-class”.
“Justin has got it all. His development with the Ospreys this season has been excellent and it’s great to have two brilliant players in that position pushing each other all the way. It would be impossible however to play the two of them together – they’re both genuine opensides plus Dan Lydiate had a brilliant Six Nations campaign on the blindside.”
Following their strong performances in the Rugby World Cup and the Grand Slam winning Six Nations earlier this year, Williams feels that Wales have a strong chance of victory down under if they continue to back up their performances and also given their relatively clean bill of health and strength in depth. “If you look at the way Australia are playing right now in Super Rugby, now seems like the best time to go down there and get a victory. They still possess plenty of world-class players, but I’m fairly confident Wales can be successful.”
by Ben Coles
Martyn Williams was helping out with Crymych RFC’s renovation work during NatWest RugbyForce Weekend. For more information on the programme visit natwest.com/rugbyforce.