Owen Williams: Wales back not giving up hope of international future

Owen Williams has played for Scarlets, Leicester and Gloucester
Owen Williams has played for Scarlets, Leicester and Gloucester

Japan-bound Owen Williams says he has not given up hope of playing for Wales again despite joining NTT Docomo Red Hurricanes from Gloucester.

Williams, 28, won three caps in 2017 but becomes ineligible under the Welsh Rugby Union selection policy that rules out players with fewer than 60 caps who sign for sides outside Wales.

The fly-half or centre says he could come back to Wales after just one year.

"I definitely want to play for Wales again," he told the Scrum V podcast.

"You never know, it could be in a year or two years' time.

"It was meant to be a year's contract but it is down to 10 months now and it could potentially be nine depending on the visa.

"It is a short time and it could be when I come back I will be 29, so I will have a couple of years to go. But I also might love it out there and stay for a couple of years and I am open to that."

Williams won his first cap against Tonga in the summer of 2017 before starting at centre against Australia and New Zealand later that year.

Injuries have since plagued Williams, who was due to be a replacement for Wales' 2020 Six Nations match in Ireland but tore his hamstring kicking at goal in the warm-up and lost his chance of a comeback.

He is the second Wales back to move to Japan after centre Hadleigh Parkes' switch to Panasonic Wild Knights.

"It is every boy's dream to play for Wales and I feel like three caps is not enough for me," said Williams.

"I added it up the other day that I have probably missed two and a half to three years through injury so I have missed a good chunk."

Owen Williams started two of his three Wales internationals in the centre
Owen Williams started two of his three Wales internationals in the centre

Williams says he held talks with Welsh regions but the coronavirus crisis facilitated his Japanese move.

"I spoke to a few regions and I was set on coming back to Wales after this Gloucester contract, because I wanted to play for Wales," said Williams.

"With everything that went on with the coronavirus, everything got pushed back a bit like signing contracts.

"With Japan contracts you had to wait a lot later and I probably would have got a deal with a region a lot sooner if not for coronavirus.

"Japan became an option and I just thought it is a great opportunity and the timing is right.

"It is something completely different and I have always wanted to experience things in my career.

"I had a chance at a young age to move to England and I loved it.

"I thought I now have an opportunity to move to Japan, especially with what is going on in the world at the moment, and thought it was the perfect time to go there for a year.

"There are no guarantees and I thought I might never get this opportunity again, so let's go for it.

"Financially there is also a lot more certainty in Japan than there is in Wales at the moment."

Williams says he has kept in close contact with Wales coach Wayne Pivac over the Japan move.

"I have spoken to Wayne a few times," said Williams.

"We initially spoke in the Six Nations and he said if I wanted to play for Wales, it is better if I was playing in Wales and I agreed with him.

"We had a chat where he thought I would fit in best and which was the best region. Before I made my decision I let him and the coaches at the regions know why I made that choice.

"In fairness to Wayne, it is his job to persuade boys to come back to play because he wants the best playing in Wales but when I said I had made up my mind he was nice about it.

"He said let's stay in touch and we will speak a couple of months down the line."