Ospreys star Shane Williams is back to his best. That’s the view of Wales coach Warren Gatland.
Gatland believes his wing wizard is now hitting top form following a disappointing season last time out.
Williams, who has been with the Ospreys since their inception in 2003, was named IRB World Player of the Year in 2008 following a sensational 12 months in which he regularly lit up the world game.
Williams cemented his reputation as the most-dangerous broken-field runner in the world game as a series of sensational performances for both club and country saw him become the first northern hemisphere winner of the prestigious award for five years.
Things didn’t run quite as smoothly in 2009, although Williams did still make the end-of-year Lions tour to South Africa – his second following the 2005 trip to New Zealand.
But if critics had begun to write off the 33-year-old speedster, the current Six Nations campaign should have led to some hasty re-evaluations.
Wales may not have shone as brightly as they may have hoped but Williams’ own star appears rejuvenated.
His last-minute try against Scotland capped a remarkable Welsh comeback, while another impressive effort a fortnight later almost led to an unlikely revival against Grand Slam-chasing France.
“It was a tough time for him after winning the IRB orld player award,” said Gatland, who named Williams on the left wing for this Saturday’s clash with Ireland.
“He had a testimonial season; he wrote a book – that can put a player under a lot of pressure. But he isn’t hampered by those expectations.
“Playing the game is what he does best and he has hit some great form.
“I’m not criticising him for last season. I think he’s been a great servant for Welsh rugby. I can’t deny a player of that age and experience, after what he has given to the game, the chance to cash in on some of those benefits.
“But he hasn’t got those distractions at the moment and you can see it in the way he is training and playing.”