'I'm a scaffolder living the dream' - Liam Williams set for 50th Wales cap

By Gareth GriffithsBBC Sport Wales
Liam Williams scores against France in the 2018 Six Nations
Liam Williams scored the last of his nine Wales tries against France in the 2018 Six Nations
Autumn international: Wales v Tonga
Venue: Principality Stadium, Cardiff Date: Saturday, 17 November Kick-off: 14:30 GMT
Coverage: Live on BBC One, S4C, BBC Radio Wales, Radio Cymru, the BBC Sport website and app.

"I am just a scaffolder living the dream!"

The words of Liam Williams, who did not start his career following the traditional path of a modern-day rugby professional.

But the British and Irish Lions Test player will become part of an established elite when he wins his 50th Wales cap against Tonga in Cardiff on Saturday.

Not bad for a player who did not come through the academy systems, instead spending an earlier career spent in and around Port Talbot's Margam Steelworks before being spotted playing for Waunarlwydd RFC.

From there Williams has forced his way into the game's elite thanks to his performances with the Scarlets, Saracens, Wales and the Lions.

With his fearless style and distinctive bandy legs, the man nicknamed 'Sanjay' - bestowed on him during a family holiday because of a resemblance to an EastEnders character - has become a cult hero with the Welsh rugby public, who will celebrate with him at the Principality Stadium.

"It is going to be a great occasion for me and my loved ones," said Williams. "There are loads coming down, I think there will be about 16 of them.

"It was always my boyhood dream to play for Wales. To get to 50 caps gives me goose bumps now just talking about it.

"I did not really think it would be possible to get here. Hopefully there are many more to come.

"One of my favourite memories was winning my first cap playing against the Barbarians in 2012 and then going on tour the next day to Australia.

"To now win my 50th cap now is one of my greatest achievements."

However, Williams says once he takes the pitch he must not get distracted on his special day.

"If I lead out the team it would be a huge honour," said the Saracens back.

"Any game is emotional but I have to look at the 50th as just a number. It is not about the cap number, it's about me putting that red jersey on and going out there and giving 110%."

Liam Williams and Leigh Halfpenny
Leigh Halfpenny (right) replaced Liam Williams at Scarlets for the 2017-18 season

Williams dazzled for the Lions in the drawn 2017 Test series in New Zealand, most notably his brilliant run to set up a try for Ireland flanker Sean O'Brien.

That was in his preferred full-back position but Williams will line up for Wales on the wing against Tonga, with new cap Jonah Holmes handed the 15 jersey.

"I will play anywhere in the back three," said Williams.

"I would prefer to play 15 but Gats (Wales coach Warren Gatland) has picked Jonah there and we will both go out there and give it our best shot.

"The positions are interchangeable in the back three now and during the games you do tend to switch. We can both play wing or full-back so it's all good.

"There is a lot of depth in the back three now. As a squad we are in a good place and that is only going to work well for us leading into the World Cup."

It will be a special family weekend, with his cousin Lauren Smyth playing at full-back for Wales women against Hong Kong on Friday night.

Williams will not be able to attend as he prepares for Tonga, with Wales making 14 changes from the team that defeated Australia last weekend - their first win over the Wallabies for a decade.

'The words not coming out scares me' - Liam Williams on his stammer

Wales have won their last seven matches and are looking to complete an autumn clean sweep with victories over Tonga and South Africa.

"We know Tonga are a big-hitting team that like to throw the ball about, so we have to be aware of that," said Williams

"As long as we have our own house in order hopefully we will get the win whether it is by a high or low margin.

"It is good we can make these changes, which are going to help us going through to the World Cup.

"It would be awesome to get a win under our belts and then have the big one next weekend against South Africa and try to finish off with another famous victory."

Williams has been playing most of his club rugby with Saracens on the wing, with Alex Goode at full-back.

The 27-year-old has scored two hat-tricks in his second season following his move from Scarlets and will spend a third campaign with the English champions after taking up a contract extension offer.

"I am going to take the third year at Saracens, which takes me up until the season after the World Cup," said Williams.

"Moving up to London was a big step for me. It was a bit of a lifestyle change, sort of like starting school all over again.

"I have fitted in well and the boys have helped me adjust to my move."

Top Stories

Elsewhere on the BBC

Featured