Friday, October 18, 2013

Can Jordan Fill George's Boots?

The first round of European matches has been and gone in the blink of an eye. There will be mixed emotions at regional level in Wales; the Ospreys were left disappointed against Leinster and the Blues humiliated in Exeter. The Dragons were boosted with a second Italian win in as many weeks, but it was the Scarlets flowing, counter attacking win at the Stoop that stole the headlines.
 
Had the game against Harlequins been played 12 months ago, George North would have been pulling on a Scarlets jersey. However, North has now moved himself over the Severn Bridge and may not be available to panic Wallaby defenders this autumn as the game falls outside the IRB window. Should North not be released, Warren Gatland will need to find a replacement in the left wing slot.
 
Man-for-man, North is virtually impossible to replace; the man nicknamed 'Gogzilla' is unique. Equally as quick and elusive as he is strong and abrasive, North has the capabilities to terrorise even the best defences. In the summer he carried Israel Folau on his shoulder like a farmer with a bag of spuds and pointed at Will Genia as he crossed the line, like a father chastising his wayward child.
George North, North, Wales, British Lions, Lions, Rugby, Genia, Try, Point, Australia
One player who firmly put his hands up to fill the 11 shirt was Jordan Williams (although he will need a smaller size). His playing style and his stature could not be further from that of North or Cuthbert; you'll find no fireman lifts or crash balls in Williams' game. Instead he is a will-o'-the-wisp of a back three player whose star has been rising in West Wales for some time. However, injury has limited his appearances at Parc Y Scarlets.
 
Williams' rise to prominence around the country came this summer with his performances in France's Junior World Cup. His quick stepping runs launched Welsh Under 20s attacks on route to the final and Ruck 'n' Roll named him as one of our talented Welsh youngsters to watch before the season started. He is living up to the billing. 
Jordan Williams, Wales, Under 20s, Junior World Cup, Rugby
Williams has already been compared to league convert and World Cup winner Jason Robinson and countryman and name sake Shane Williams. Perhaps the most flattering comparison though, came from the most respected of sources. 92 times capped All Black and expert pundit Sean Fitzpatrick compared the fleet footed back to another All Blacks legend, Christian Cullen. 
 
The comparisons don't appear to have fazed Williams, as he continues to keep playing his high-octane counter attack game with some aplomb. His try against Harlequins has now brought him to the prominence of even the casual rugby follower as he bounced off defenders, tight rope walked the in field area near the touchline line and stepped the last man to cross the try line and earn him the moniker "Pinball Wizard."
 
With that try Williams announced his arrival on the big stage. No longer a junior player trying to make a step up, he is now the real thing. Some will say its too soon for Williams to pull on the red shirt of his nation, but George North made his first Wales start just 12 weeks after his Scarlets debut.
Harlequins, Scarlets, Jordan Williams, Rugby, Try, Wales, Europe, Heineken Cup
Williams will face some stiff opposition for a starting place as a number of other rising stars will battle it out with him. Fellow clubman Liam Williams has impressed and has already made his international debut. Ospreys' flyer Eli Walker, Blues' Harry Robinson and Dragons Hallam Amos (who also impressed for the Wales Under 20s) will all stake their claims for the jersey.
 
Gatland is not afraid to give people a chance and Jordan may find himself thrust into the spotlight and the floodlights for the Friday night game against Tonga on 22nd November. If he performs well, he may find himself lining up against the gold and green of the Quantas Wallabies 8 days later.
 
 The Who - Pinball Wizard

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