After a summer spent resting at home with his family Shane Williams has reported back for training feeling '10 years younger'.
The region’s all-time top try scorer opted to miss Wales’ summer internationals in order to enjoy a period of prolonged rest, allowing an ongoing shoulder problem time to settle fully, and as he stepped up his preparation for the forthcoming season on Monday morning he said that the decision to skip the three fixtures in June was the correct call.
“The shoulder’s really good, I’ve had the ideal summer to be honest” he commented.
“I was disappointed not to go on the tour but I think it’s done me the world of good. I’ve come back in to start training this week and I’m feeling fresh. I feel 10 years younger.
“I’ve had a bit of time to myself. I’ve had my holidays, the kids have kept me busy, they’ve been happy to see me around more than usual, but I’ve also managed to train throughout the summer to make sure I came back in good nick.”
Shane’s summer of rest hasn’t been just about putting his feet up and forgetting about rugby as he’s been busy working on his core fitness to ensure he was able to hit the ground running when he reported for pre-season:
“I’ve been working hard over the summer on speed training and weights, coming in and doing a bit of rehab with the Physio’s, Chris and Brian. It’s been a bit strange really, it’s not been the kind of summer I’ve been used to over the years, and to be back in training at this stage doesn’t seem natural! I’d anticipated being away on tour and didn’t actually book my holiday until after the tour dates, so the summer’s been broken up a bit actually, the work I was doing in the early part of the summer, my holiday and now pre-season, which started for me this week.
“I was working it out and I think it’s going to be the first full pre-season I’ve done in seven years. I’m glad of the break I’ve had, I can certainly feel that I haven’t been on tour. I felt rested coming in for and after my first session I felt really good and ready to go again.
“That’s what this has all been about this summer really, making sure I was fresh for the start of the season. I feel really good at the moment and I’m ready to do a full pre-season and hit the new season with a bang, which is exactly what I wanted. I’m on track, feeling healthy and fit and I can’t wait.”
The 33-year old winger will be hoping to get a good season under his belt and, hopefully, secure a place in the national squad for the 2011 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand, but he insists that at the moment the Welsh squad is at the back of his mind. He said:
“It’s a massive season for me. I know I’m coming to the twilight years of my career so I know that I have to enjoy it the best I can. There’s a lot being said about the World Cup next year, and the need to push your claim for a place in the squad for that, but first of all I’ve got to get fit for pre-season, and I’ve got to play well for the Ospreys.
“I’m expecting big things from us this year. I’m really excited about the new season, with Ospreys and Wales, but it’s all about getting into both squads for me at the moment. We’ve got a good squad at the Ospreys and we all know the talent that’s in Wales at the moment so I can’t take anything for granted if I want to keep on playing.
“I know I’ve got to train hard and play well if I want to play for either team.”
With a wealth of young wing talent coming through the ranks at the region, Shane acknowledges that his place in the starting line-up won’t be guaranteed next season, but he says that he is looking forward to the battle:
“It’s always a challenge that any player has to face throughout their career, so there’s nothing different there. What is different, and exciting, is that there are real numbers coming through at the same time. I’ve known about these players at the Ospreys for quite a few years now, they may only be 17, 18 or 19 but there’s been plenty of talk about them within the group and you spend some time training with them where you see for yourself what the fuss is about.
“Some of the talent coming through is pretty exciting, and it seems like players are getting younger and younger when we are talking about them. I can tell you for sure that I wasn’t half as good as the likes of Tom Prydie or Kristian Phillips were when I was 17 or 18. They are coming through, pushing for places, and it’s good for Welsh rugby and the Ospreys. In training this morning, I could see the likes of Eli Walker and a few other youngsters who are coming through, the talent is exciting, it really is.
“It’s keeping me on my toes but I’d like to think that I’ll keep them out for a bit longer. It’s a challenge, it won’t be easy and I’m going to have to stay at the top of my game, but I think that I’ll be able to share enough game time with them over the next year to stay in contention here and with Wales!”