Former Wales wing Shane Williams has opened up on his pride of wearing a British & Irish Lions jersey during their tour of New Zealand in 2005.
Fresh from helping Wales win a Grand Slam Six Nations title in 2005, Williams was named in the Lions squad for their New Zealand tour.
In an interview with the Lions website, the short wing recalled feeling like a giant when he was able to pull on the famous red shirt in a historic warm-up match against Argentina in Cardiff.
‘To put the Lions jersey on for the first time, I remember putting it on and feeling 12 feet tall,’ Williams told the Lions website. ‘To play for Wales was my dream as a kid and I knew all about the history of the Lions.
‘But I never thought for one minute that I would play for Wales, let alone the Lions. So, when the chance comes along you’re pinching yourself, you really are.
‘When I put that jersey on for the Argentina game, I was so proud. It didn’t matter who we were playing, where we were playing, I was so proud.
‘The fact that we were playing at the Millennium Stadium was huge because I knew we would have a lot of Welsh fans there. It was in my home stadium and I just couldn’t wait to go. It was a huge honour and it was a capped game as well, so that’s a Lions international Test cap. I’m very proud of that moment and to have my family there watching, it was huge.’
During the tour, Williams would make a small bit of history by equalling a single-game Lions record when he scored five tries in a midweek match against Manawatu.
‘Every time I put the Lions jersey on, whether it be against the All Blacks, South Africa, Manawatu, Otaga, whatever, I was absolutely beaming that I’d made it and had that opportunity,’ Williams said.
‘I was put in that Lions squad to score tries, that’s my job. I suppose I’m the Messi or Shearer of rugby. When it comes to football they are there to score goals, I’m there to score tries. Every time there was a game for the Lions I would put my hand up, I wanted to play. I’d play every single game if the coaches would let me.’
However, the rest of the tour would not go to plan for the Lions as they were handed a 3-0 series defeat by an All Blacks side inspired by the likes of Dan Carter and Sitiveni Sivivatu.
‘We were completely outplayed – New Zealand in 2005 were probably one of the best All Black teams I played against,’ Williams explained. ‘We were outmuscled, we were outfought, they were absolute class. I remember playing in that second Test and Dan Carter was absolutely everywhere. It was probably his best game in a New Zealand shirt I’d say, he was scoring points for fun.
‘They were absolutely incredible on that tour. Not only were the Test games tough, the midweek matches as well were so physical, so hard, but that’s life. Sometimes you come up against better teams, better players and you learn a lot from it. I like to think I learnt a lot from that tour and wouldn’t change it – it’s been and it’s gone.’
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