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JJ Williams

Two tours, 7 Tests, 1974-77

Two tours, 7 Tests, 1974-77

(1974: 4 Tests; 1977: 3 Tests)

While the Lions tours of 1974 and 1977 introduced the southern hemisphere to the growing power of British and Irish forward play, they also announced the arrival of one of the team's finest backline finishers in Welsh wing JJ Williams.

Williams had represented his country as a sprinter at the 1970 Commonwealth Games but by 1974 had focused solely on his rugby and was into his second season as an international.

The 26-year-old schoolteacher had to take him unpaid leave to tour apartheid South Africa; a return of 12 tries from as many games and a record four in the Test series left the tourists grateful for his sacrifice.

Williams' pace was his prime weapon when he arrived on tour but he soon expanded and adapted his game on the country's hard grounds to near-perfect the chip and chase ploy, and developed a profitable understanding with scrum-half Gareth Edwards in attacking the blindside.

His threat was realised most spectacularly against South West Districts, when he equalled David Duckham 's 1971 record of six tries in a game, and most valuably in the second and third Test victories that sealed the series win.

Williams struck twice in each of those internationals, putting the Lions in command with two first-half tries in the former and putting them out of sight in the latter with two spectacular touchdowns after the break, the first in a link-up with namesake JPR Williams and the second another of his chip and chase efforts.

Three years later, Williams toured New Zealand as a Lion, and although his tour was ended prematurely by a hamstring injury suffered during the third Test he still notched up a further 10 tries, only one fewer than top-scorer Andy Irvine .

The terrible weather conditions the Lions faced meant the chip and chase tactics of South Africa were largely off the menu for Williams this time round, but he showed alternative assets of strength and resilience to keep his try tally growing.

Once again, he was on the mark in the Test series, scoring the winning try of the second Test with a superb dummy.

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