Wales legend Shane Williams has chosen the back-three he thinks his country should pick.
The diminutive former winger, Wales’ top try-scorer having scored a remarkable 58 tries in 87 tests between 2000 and 2011, writing in his column for Wales Online, has opted for an exciting back-three with plenty of X-Factor.
But there is no place for experienced Scarlets full-back Leigh Halfpenny in the former Ospreys star’s selection with Liam Williams getting the nod over the former Toulon back.
Explaining his decision to opt for Saracens winger Williams, who shone at 15 for the Lions during the summer for the Lions, three-time Lions tourist Williams cites his namesake’s ‘serious pace’ and ‘skill’ and that Wales ‘look more dangerous’ with him at 15′, for why the 45 times-capped former Scarlets man should start at 15.
“I have long believed Liam Williams could do a brilliant job at No.15 for Wales given an extended run in the position.
“He is unpredictable, has serious pace, skill and a spirit of adventure.
“I just think Liam and Wales are more dangerous when he figures at full-back”.
While on the right-wing, the two-time Grand Slam winner plumps for Northampton winger George North, currently out of action with a knee injury.
The 6ft 4in, 17st 2lb powerhouse who will return to Wales on a National Dual Contract next season, had shown signs of returning to his devastating best before injuring himself against Saracens last month, and his former teammate believes that when the North Walian is ‘fit’ and ‘firing’ he would probably be one of the first names down on Gatland’s team sheet.
The 25-year-old who boasts an excellent try-scoring record for his country having touched down 30 times in 69 tests, has suffered a spate of concussion-related injuries as well a hamstring problem in the last couple of years, which has seen him struggle to return to his outstanding best.
One of the stars of the British and Irish Lions’ 2-1 series win over Australia in 2013, the former Scarlets star was below-par during the Lions tour to New Zealand and saw his tour cut short by a hamstring tear suffered in a mid-week game against the Hurricanes, in the week leading up to the second Test.
North who won a Premiership title in his first season at Franklin’s Gardens, has come under criticism for his defence but Williams has no doubts about including him in his back-three.
“Accepted, he didn’t have the greatest Lions tour and there have been question marks over his tackling.
“But when he gets his business head on he can terrorise any defence with his mix of speed and power. New Zealand saw North at his best in the first test against Wales in 2016 when he made six clean breaks and looked threatening every time he had the ball. Ireland had similar treatment during last season’s Six Nations”.
While on the left-wing, Wales’ hottest young talent, Steff Evans, fends off the challenge of unlucky Dragons flyer Hallam Amos, to wear the No 11 shirt, despite Amos having scored three tries in his last three games and really impressing.
Evans who really impressed against Australia, beating nine men in attack and scoring a try, struggled against the All Blacks last Saturday, missing seven tackles but Williams believes that Warren Gatland should persevere with him because, in his opinion, the 23-year-old can develop into the ”attacking catalyst Wales need.”
“Hallam Amos has also done little wrong this autumn and plenty right.
“But Evans gets my vote because he has the potential to be the attacking catalyst Wales need.
“I know he has missed too many tackles this autumn and I know he has a lot to learn in test rugby.
“Of course, Warren Gatland will be concerned that Steff missed seven tackles against New Zealand, but I hope he sees in him the ability and intent to really prove an asset to Wales in the not-to-distant future”.
It is undoubtedly a very dangerous back-three which could do some real damage.
Over to you Warren!