LONDON, Sept 4 (Reuters) - One man’s misfortune is another man’s gain and a season-ending knee injury for Jonathan Davies has handed centre Scott Williams the chance to play an integral part for Wales at the World Cup.
Williams has won most of his 31 caps when coming off the bench since his international debut in 2011, unable to break the established pairing of Davies and Jamie Roberts, who have been an instrumental part of Welsh success.
But with Davies ruled out of the World Cup, a big blow for coach Warren Gatland with one half of his British and Irish Lion midfield axis unavailable, Williams is likely to get the nod alongside Roberts ahead of emerging young talent Tyler Morgan.
Williams, just 24 himself, has already shown glimpses of his calibre on the international stage, most memorably when scoring a stunning match-winning try against England at Twickenham in Wales’ grand-slam season in 2012.
Ripping the ball away from England lock Courtney Lawes on the halfway line, Williams kicked ahead long and low, his natural speed keeping him ahead of the backtracking defenders who were helpless as the centre gathered to score.
His second-half try when coming off the bench against Ireland in this year’s Six Nations also showed his eye for a gap and burst of finishing speed as Wales defiantly ended the visitors’ grand slam hopes at the Millennium stadium.
This will be the second World Cup for Williams having played a part in 2011 as Wales finished fourth and captain Sam Warburton said the centre was the “perfect replacement” for Davies.
“Scott has been part of the spine of the team for the last few years and it is just unfortunate that he has got two British Lions who play in the centres in front of him,” he said.
“He has been brilliant for so long and we couldn’t have had a better man to step up in Jonathan’s absence. He has started for Wales a lot of times already and people remember the solo try he scored at Twickenham back in 2012 but he has been playing immensely for the Scarlets for a long time.”
A measure of the esteem that he is held in by the Welsh management came when he was handed the captaincy of an experimental side for the test against Ireland last month.
In wearing the armband Williams became the first back to skipper Wales in the Gatland era but he will be hoping for far greater honours over the next two months.
Editing by Mitch Phillips