Brumbies v British & Irish Lions, Canberra, June 18
'Wade is my kind of guy'
June 17, 2013
Lions newcomers Christian Wade, Shane Williams and Brad Barritt will make their tour bows in Canberra on Tuesday night © Getty Images
Just a few days ago, Williams was playing for his Japanese club side Mitsubishi Dynaboars while Wade was on tour with England in Argentina but both will line up for the Lions in Canberra having been drafted into the squad in the wake of a worrying injury crisis.
Williams, who is only expected to feature in one tour game before returning to the media ranks for the Test series against Australia, scored a Welsh record 58 tries in 87 Tests before bringing the curtain down on a spectacular international career 18 months ago. In contrast, Wade, who at 22 is 14 years younger than his fellow wing, only made his Test debut in England's first Test victory over Argentina earlier this month.
However, he has done more than enough to catch the eye of Williams on the Premiership stage. "I have paid close attention to Christian and I've spoken to Stephen Jones (former Wales and Wasps fly-half) about him," Williams told PA Sport. "He is a very talented player, new on the scene, but already raising eyebrows.
"He is obviously a massive talent, and I enjoy the way he plays. He is a very aggressive runner, obviously very fast, and he enjoys taking defenders on. He is my kind of guy, and I am looking forward to playing with him. He is more than capable of showing what he has got tomorrow and being part of this Test series."
Wade, who scored 18 tries in 26 appearances for Wasps last season and claimed a unique double at the Rugby Players' Association awards, winning both the players' player and the young player awards, is relishing the chance to play alongside one of his heroes.
"It is a massive thrill to play with Shane," he said. "I have watched him from a distance and tried to learn from him, and to be able to play alongside him is beyond my dreams. I didn't get the chance to play against him, and to be able to play with him is taking it to the next level."
The Lions' starting XV will feature six players who were not in the original squad - with another two on the bench - but Williams has backed the new-look side to gel. "We are professional rugby players," Williams said. "We've played alongside the majority of these players before.
"We have to do our homework tonight to make sure we are mentally prepared for this game. We want to give 100 per cent and we don't want to let ourselves down. We are fully prepared to give it our all and play the way we play."
It is likely to be a one game only experience Down Under for Williams, a Lions tourist in 2005 and 2009, as injuries clear among the backs, but he is determined to give it everything. "I have kept fit and I've worked just as hard in Japan as I have throughout my rugby career," he added. "Hopefully, it is not going to be too much of a shock to the system. I have played enough professional games and international level games to know what to expect tomorrow.
"I appreciate the Lions have had a lot of injuries during this tough tour so far, and if me playing tomorrow helps the Lions to recover, and do whatever it is best to prepare for Saturday and win that game, then I am very proud to be a part of it.
"Four years ago in Johannesburg (the Lions beat third Test opponents South Africa) was a great day for me and the Lions. It was unfortunate we lost the series, but I came off that field immensely proud, thinking that was the last time I'd wear the Lions jersey - and I've thought that for the last four years."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.