Saracens completed the signing of Scarlets and Wales fullback Liam Williams yesterday in a move that sparks numerous questions.
Here, Pundit Arena examines the three biggest.
- What Does Liam Williams’ Arrival Mean For Alex Goode?
The 2015-16 Premiership Player of the Year is Saracens’ fullback Alex Goode. Goode, who grew up playing at fly-half, has proven himself to be the ideal No. 15 for Sarries’ style.
Since the departure of veteran playmaker Charlie Hodgson, and even when the former Sale man started on the bench, Saracens made excellent use of Goode as a first or second receiver. He became a fullback who was responsible for much of the backline’s creativity.
He also developed his counter-attacking game, and his Premiership award last term was worthy recognition of his speed of thought and deceptively quick footwork.
But the marquee signing for next season, Williams, also excels at No. 15. So, what will happen?
- Would Williams Play On The Wing?
Given how integral Goode is to Saracens’ system, Mark McCall may be lining Williams up as a winger. He needs to replace Chris Ashton, and Chris Wyles who – good season though he may be having – is running out of years at the top.
Most teams would fail to provide Williams with enough space out wide for him to be as effective as when he is countering from deep, but given that Goode is often found in midfield, Mark McCall may have a tactical ruse up his sleeve.
He may in effect be trying to get away with deploying two full-backs. In possession, when Goode is in midfield, Williams could drop back and in-field, thereby potentially granting Saracens the best of Goode as a playmaker and Williams as a strike runner.
Warren Gatland did something similar in the summer tour to New Zealand. Wearing 14, but often playing centrally, the Scarlet tore through the All Black defence when afforded space.
The question is, will it work with Saracens?
- What Does This Mean For Gatland’s Law?
Under the terms of the WRU’s plan to keep the best of the principality’s talent in Wales, the Welsh team head coach is currently only allowed to select three wildcards who play outside of its regions.
On this season’s form, Williams is a guaranteed recipient of a wildcard, but his move has knock-on effects for the other Welsh exiles, most notably George North, Taulupe Faletau, Jamie Roberts and Leigh Halfpenny.
With the latter struggling to find his best form following his horrific injury in 2015, expect the Toulon kicker – currently deciding where to play next season – to head straight back to Wales. If he doesn’t he won’t get picked.
Daniel Rey, Pundit Arena