Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Ex-West Wing Is Hunting the Cup

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Ex-West Wing Is Hunting the Cup

Article excerpt

Byline: By Alan Hedley

Jim Williams will carry the best wishes of his former club West Hartlepool when he leads Munster in the semi-finals of the Heineken European Cup this weekend.

Williams played on the wing for West in the Premiership before deciding to go home to Australia and developing into one of the game's top back row forwards with the Wallabies and ACT Brumbies.

At 35, Williams is coming to the end of his career but he has been the catalyst for Munster to move into the Heineken semis, taking revenge on Leicester for last season's final defeat in the process. He was elected captain of Munster by the players beating local lad Anthony Foley in a secret ballot - that's how much the team thinks of him.

"I had another year to run on my contract with the Brumbies and just thought that after winning the Super 12 title I had achieved most of what I wanted," said Williams, who remembers his days in the North-East with some affection.

"The challenge was to come back overseas and experience a different rugby culture. I did find it difficult to integrate. The reception when I arrived was fantastic, but it was also overwhelming.

"I didn't think people would know much about me but the Munster fans were so well-versed about where a player comes from, what he does, his stats, everything. They're right in your face in a good way, but it was nothing like what I had encountered in Canberra.

"Leading a team for a whole season was something I hadn't done but aspired to. I'd done it in one or two games for the Brumbies but never long-term. I'm not a tub-thumper - I try to lead by example."

Munster will be looking for that leadership against Toulouse and there are more than few rugby fans who would like to see Munster lift the title.

Williams' longevity probably has something to do with his late development. …

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