Wales' Martyn Williams ready to grab World Cup chance

2011 Rugby World Cup warm-up match: Wales v Argentina

Venue:
Millennium Stadium
Date:
Saturday, 20 August
Kick-off:
1430 BST
Match coverage:
Live on BBC One from 1400 BST, live commentary on BBC Sport website, BBC Radio Wales and BBC Radio Cymru; live text commentary on BBC Sport website; updates on BBC Radio 5 live
Martyn Williams
Wales flanker Martyn Williams has twice toured with the British and Irish Lions

Martyn Williams has said he is ready to seize his opportunity against Argentina on Saturday and claim a place in Wales' World Cup squad.

In what will be his final Test at the Millennium Stadium, the Cardiff Blues flanker will lead the side following Ryan Jones' late withdrawal to injury.

"I've just got to try and put in a big performance," said the 35-year-old.

"There are some boys who haven't had that opportunity to start at all in these [warm-up] games."

Williams is one of nine changes to the Wales side that beat England 19-9 in Cardiff last Saturday.

That came seven days after Warren Gatland's men lost 23-19 at Twickenham in the first of three warm-up games.

"For quite a few of us [it] is our last opportunity to lay a marker down and try and get on that plane for New Zealand," he added.

"It's important we play well individually but that only happens if we gel as a team.

"The boys have set the standard over the last two weeks and two big performances so for a lot of us we need to play well to try and get on that plane."

Gatland will announce Wales' 30-man squad for the World Cup on Monday 22 August, two days after the Argentina match.

Williams will win his 99th cap against the Pumas, one cap fewer than Gareth Thomas and Stephen Jones, who jointly hold the current Wales appearance record.

And the former Pontypridd player has had to wait patiently for his chance, having been overlooked by Gatland for this year's Six Nations championship.

"I'm like a batsman in the 90s at the moment, twitching away," joked Williams, who has not played for Wales since coming on as a replacement against New Zealand last November.

"Obviously when you get this close you'd love to get to your 100. If it's to be, it's to be. If it's not, it's not.

"I've had a pretty good run but it would be nice to get one more. I'm just glad to get the opportunity again.

"[I was] really over the moon when I got the nod off Warren. [I'm] excited again, similar to perhaps my first cap.

"[I'm] just glad to get the call because it's been a long summer of training.

"If I do make it [to the World Cup] then that will definitely be it. It will definitely be my last game at the Millennium on Saturday, so I'm excited about that."

Williams' opportunities with Wales have been limited due to the emergence of Cardiff Blues team-mate Sam Warburton.

Warburton has captained Wales in previous three matches due to the absence of regular skipper Matthew Rees, who will miss the World Cup due to injury.

"He's been captain and been absolutely outstanding in both games, as he was all through the Six Nations and last autumn," said Williams of Warburton.

"It's big shoes to fill, I'll try my best. We're probably two different types of players. I've got to try and concentrate on my game and give it our best shot.

"We've got another special seven coming through in Justin Tipuric, who is going to be a great player.

"It's going to be nice to sit back in my armchair and watch Justin and Sam go out there for a few years yet."

Having beaten England, Williams says there will be pressure on the Welsh players to put in a similar performance this Saturday with the World Cup less than a month away.

"It's huge for us to try and keep that going," added Williams, a veteran of three previous World Cups

"By hook or crook we needed to win on Saturday because if we'd have lost it would have been a big downer.

Wales face South Africa in their opening pool game on September 11 in Wellington.

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