After producing a fairytale ending to his farewell game at the Liberty Stadium on Friday night, Shane Williams admitted that he thought his chance to sign off in style had gone.
The winger raced through from the 10m line with the clock showing 82 minutes after Aled Brew had been turned over in midfield to score under the posts before picking himself up to score his first ever conversion for the Ospreys, Dan Biggar handing him the kicking tee to bring the match to a fitting conclusion.
Speaking to the press after the game, Shane said:
“It was a carbon copy of the Australia game nearly. I found it difficult to get into that game, to get involved, and the Dragons made it difficult for us, particularly hard for us to get any width on the ball. They contested well and that made it a difficult game for me.
“You get games like that. I came in at half-time and I thought that I hadn’t really touched the ball, I couldn’t really get into the game. I said to myself “this could be your last game, you’ve got to get involved” and that’s the way it goes. You can’t go chasing it too much but I got a bit more ball in the second half, found myself getting hungrier and hungrier as the game went on. I could see the Dragons were getting tired and I tried to get more involved where I could.
“A couple of passes just didn’t go quite to hand and I was questioning myself whether it was going to be my day and then that happened at the end. To be fair to us we kept them under pressure and there were a few tired legs out there in the end and it was a nice little ‘gentleman’s agreement’ with Toby to let me in under the posts!
“It’s one of those strange things really. It was a long 45 yards to run let me tell you, and I nearly put my back out diving. I’ll never forget it. I was more nervous before the kick than I’ve been all week to be honest with you. It would have taken the shine off the try if the kick had hit the corner flag! It was nervewracking. Biggs actually gave me the option of kicking the conversion against Australia. I pulled out of that one but I thought I’ve got to have a go at this one today!”
With a bumper crowd just shy of 14,500 turning out to pay tribute to an Ospreylian legend, Williams paid his own tribute to the fans, adding that he is relishing the off the field challenges facing him next year as an Ospreys ‘ambassador’.
“It would be fantastic if we could get crowds like that week in, week out” he said.
“The support I’ve had all week on the social networks, and family and friends, has been incredible. It was fantastic. We’d love to play to a crowd like that every week. They were fantastic tonight, it’s good to have all the youngsters, all the kids here supporting us. It makes our jobs easier.
“We’re working damned hard behind the scenes to make a success of this region, as hard off the field as we are on it. It’s a tough place at the moment, all regions are feeling it, but the effort’s there and we’ll continue with the effort. Next season I’ll be part of that as well, trying to put bums on seats, developing the region and making it move forward. I’m looking forward to it.”
As has been the case in recent weeks, the win was based on forward power rather than the flair of the backs, but Shane insisted that it is a recipe that can bring a fourth league title to the region:
“We seem to be hitting form at the right time. The forwards are playing extremely well which when you play the likes of Leinster and Munster you really need. I think if we cut down on our mistakes, keep discipline in a few key areas, then we’ve got a good chance.
“We’re still a little bit frustrating. I don’t know how many times we were camped on the opposition line and gave a penalty away in a position where you should never be giving penalties away. There’s little things to learn but the forwards are playing great rugby and are a match for anyone.”