British & Irish Lions
Williams sweating Test selection
June 11, 2009

Wales wing Shane Williams has admitted that he is preparing for a "nerve-wracking" wait as the British & Irish Lions selectors whittle down their options for the first Test against South Africa in Durban on June 20.

Despite being the current IRB World Player of the Year and Wales' all-time leading try-scorer, Williams has struggled for form in recent months and has failed to set the Lions scene alight despite three starts in South Africa. His latest came against the Sharks on Wednesday, and he again failed to cash in.

Williams' Ospreys team-mate Tommy Bowe is a near certainty to start in the No.14 jersey, leaving a three-way standoff between Williams, Ugo Monye and Luke Fitzgerald for the other berth.

"No one has an idea of who is going to be selected for the Test," said Williams. "The nerves are always there. It is nerve-wracking but you have got to do your talking on the field." Williams is yet to claim a try on tour, and conceded an interception against the Cheetahs when attempting to force a pass.

"I enjoy my rugby, full stop, whether it is going my way or not," he said. "If it is not going my way, I am not going to stay in bed and cry myself to sleep for 24 hours, I am going to work on it.

"It is tough, and I know you have your ups and downs. I didn't expect for one second that this season was going to be anything like last season. Last season was almost a one-off that I couldn't have dreamt of, really. I knew people would be watching and ready to pounce if things didn't go right.

"I feel the pressure on and off the field, but I make myself become a better player if I can cope with that. I just have to give myself a slap in the face sometimes when I have taken a backward step, but I am enjoying it and loving being over here."

The Lions management has been behind Williams on tour, giving him every chance to play himself in to form and Warren Gatland, Shaun Edwards and Rob Howley are more than aware of the threat that he can pose from their work with Wales.

"I know things haven't completely gone my way, but I was determined to go out and just take it easy and let things come," added Williams. "The worst thing I could have done was to try pushing something and making mistakes. I was disappointed with the interception last weekend. At the time it was gutting, but I wasn't going to let it dwell on me the whole week.

"Wednesday was all about getting back on the field and getting a bit of confidence back. Even though I didn't get on the score-sheet, I enjoyed the game. Everyone has got a chance to be in the Test selection. Everyone is trying to play their heart out to get a position next Saturday.

"It's tough rugby out here, and it is not just going to happen by clicking your fingers. You can't go back in your shell, you can't dwell too much on what has happened. No one is trying to make mistakes or not play to their full potential. We are improving as a side. We are not playing perfect rugby by any means, but by the time next Saturday comes hopefully we will be as ready as we will ever be."


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