Late Lions call Williams eases rustiness fears

Frank Dalleres
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RECORD-BREAKING Welsh wing Shane Williams insists he is fit and ready to make a surprise cameo for the British and Irish Lions tomorrow after answering Warren Gatland’s 11th hour call-up.

Williams, 36, has been plucked from international exile to play in the Lions’ final warm-up match before the three-Test series against Australia, where he had been headed to work as a commentator.

Wales’s record try-scorer, who won four caps during the 2005 and 2009 Lions tours and will leave the squad again after facing ACT Brumbies, has not played Test rugby union since retiring in December 2011.

But Williams, who has been drafted in amid a backs injury crisis, is still playing at Japanese club Mitsubishi Dynaboars, where he is in his second season, and is sure he is ready to hit the ground running.

“Fitness is not going to be an issue. If I had any doubt whatsoever that I wasn’t capable or good enough then I would have said no, because there is no way I will let the Lions down,” he said.

“I had a phone call to see whether I’d be able to help them out because there are a couple of injuries in the squad. There was no chance I was going to say no.

“It was completely out of the blue. I never thought I would ever get this opportunity again, but if me contributing on Tuesday is going to help the Lions squad be successful in the three Tests then that is what I am here to do.”

Williams is set to be joined in the squad this week by England pair Brad Barritt, the Saracens centre, and Christian Wade, the prolific Wasps wing, ahead of Saturday’s first Test in Brisbane.

Barritt will arrive today having cut short a holiday in California, while Wade jets in straight from Argentina, where he only made his debut for an experimental England side earlier this month.

Gatland has fitness concerns over centres Jamie Roberts, who could miss the first Test with a hamstring problem, Manu Tuilagi, who has a sore shoulder, and Brian O’Driscoll.