Liam Williams column: Second selection, Lions magic and sad farewells

Liam Williams

In his latest BBC Sport column, Liam William reflects on his British and Irish Lions selection for a second tour and how this trip will be different.

The importance and magic of the British and Irish Lions has been shown in the last few days.

It is the best honour you can get as a rugby player, to be selected as a Lion.

So when people question what the institution means in modern rugby, you just have to see the emotions of the last few days with pictures of the ecstasy of people getting selected and agony of others missing out.

It has been the pinnacle of my rugby career to date and I was delighted to be selected for a second tour after New Zealand four years ago.

Hearing my name felt exactly the same. It does not matter whether it's your first, second, third or fourth tour, you are getting picked out of England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales and to be in that group is a special moment.

On the day of the announcement, we trained with Scarlets and then I watched it in the club lounge with about 40 of the other guys. I know Wyn Jones and a couple of others watched it on their own. Wyn went to his car.

Four years ago I watched it with my parents and my family and I am not sure how I would feel to be watching it alone. It is a personal preference and I wanted to be around people.

It was revealed in alphabetical order so somebody like Josh Adams is ok and I have to wait until the end. I was just happy to hear my name called out.

When my name popped up at the end, the whole room went nuts and it was a great feeling.

Scarlets quartet

It was good to have four players from the Scarlets. Wyn, Ken Owens and Gareth Davies have been playing well over the last couple of seasons and it was great for the club.

It is a bittersweet moment though when you see other players who might have been selected but weren't.

You look at someone like Leigh Halfpenny who is one of the guys I am closest to at Scarlets and I have been mates with him for many years.

You can't dwell on it too much. Injuries are going to play a part and if somebody is unfortunate, maybe one of those guys will be called up.

Some of the boys who did not get picked went out at the weekend against Ospreys and showed they can still be at the top of their game.

Liam Williams has played 71 internationals for Wales and three Tests for the British and Irish Lions
Liam Williams has played 71 internationals for Wales and three Tests for the British and Irish Lions

There is a bit of time now between selection and getting on the plane to go to South Africa and players will keep playing.

I am currently recovering from a minor injury but there is no concern. If I get picked to play for Scarlets, I am more than happy and will go out there and play the way I normally would. So nothing changes.

It has to be the same as any other game. The tour is in just under two months. If you go into games playing less than 100% that is when injuries can happen, but they are also random.

We saw what happened to George North when he suffered a knee injury just running and it was tough on him because he had been playing outstandingly well in the Six Nations. It was one of those things and there is not much you can do about it. That's the sport we play.

The next step is to meet up in London in a couple of weeks and pick up the kit. That is one of the best days. You get a lot of good stash and it's the stuff you want to keep for later on down the line.

We then return for a couple of weeks to our regions, before heading to Jersey for a training camp and a warm-up game against Japan at Murrayfield before finally flying out to South Africa.

Testing Tour

It is going to be a tough tour. We will have to deal with a lack of travelling fans and our families not being there and staying in the bubble for about two months.

We have to make the most of things and it will be as good or bad as we make it.

I am looking forward to getting to know some of the boys from the other countries that I only know from playing against. You are normally only on the field for 80 minutes with them and they are off.

Those eight weeks you are going to get to know those guys personally and I am hoping I will make some friends for life.

Meet the Welsh players selected for the 2021 Lions tour

The entertainments committee is going to be very important and I am going to be putting my name forward for that. It is a role I have done with Wales and I have already got a couple of ideas ready to go now.

Alun Wyn Jones will have an important part to play as captain on and off the field. He is probably one of the best rugby players in the world and it's an honour to play under him when we are with Wales.

There are so many adjectives you can use to describe him. I am chuffed for Alun who is 35 now and still going strong.

He has now signed for another season and I am sure the squad and whole of Wales will be asking him for one more year in the summer of 2022.

Gregor Townsend is the backs coach and I don't know him at all. He has been doing some great things with Scotland and they have a proper attacking threat now so I am looking forward to working with him.

Everybody wants that Test spot and I am hoping to continue my three starts against New Zealand four years ago at full-back.

The back three is stacked with world-class players and it is great to be a part of. I know a couple of them personally from the last tour and there is going to be a lot of healthy competition for the squad.

Louis Rees-Zammit has been playing very well for Gloucester over the last couple of years and came into the Wales squad and they worked hard on him. He was on fire in the Six Nations and helped us beat Scotland.

It is going to be tough when we go down there. A lot has been said about South Africa not playing since winning the World Cup in 2019.

They are not world champions for nothing and they played some great rugby in Japan.

South Africa have announced a couple of warm-up games against Georgia and I am sure they will be ready for us. It is going to be a big battle and one I am looking forward to.

Liam Williams with Glenn Delaney
Liam Williams made his debut for the Scarlets back in 2011

Goodbye Glenn

The Lions call-up completed a good week for me personally, I got selected on the Thursday, signed the contract for a new house on Friday and moved in on the Saturday with my fiancée Sophie. It has been quite hectic.

My cousin's husband moved us and they did a great job. I was helping for a bit but my back was in bits so the boys cracked on. I have turned 30 since my last column and am feeling my age!

We did have some sad news on Saturday night though when we heard Scarlets head coach Glenn Delaney is leaving the region immediately.

It has been a big shock actually. Nobody really knew what was going on and he went into the changing room after the win against Ospreys and said thank you to the boys.

He has been great for me. I have been back at Scarlets now for a year and when I was at Saracens I was talking to him about coming back.

He is a great bloke and a good load of the boys are gutted he has gone but the decision has got nothing to do with the players. That comes from higher up.

He is one of the most positive people you will meet and he was one of the first to congratulate me after my Lions selection.

He is always smiling and always comes into the kit man's room in the morning where we will be having a cup of coffee and Glenn would always be telling stories. I wish him well in whatever he chooses to do next.

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