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JPR Williams

Two tours, eight Tests

Two tours, eight Tests

(1971: 4 Tests; 1974: 4 Tests)

Attacking Lions full-back play may have been patented by Ken Scotland in the 1950s, but it took one John Peter Rhys Williams to turn it into an art form during the early 1970s.

JPR, as he became universally known, established himself as the game's outstanding full-back on the Lions tours of 1971 and '74.

Equally fearless and secure both in defence and under the high ball, it was in the attacking arts that he opened the No.15 position to new possibilities. The potential had been there since the International Board altered the laws on kicking directly to touch in 1968, but no-one prior to Williams had possessed all the ingredients to exploit it to the max.

As befitted a junior Wimbledon tennis champion, the London Welsh hero generally returned the ball with interest, timing his take so that he was already moving forward when he fielded a kick, to be instantly on the counter rather than have to look for the safety of touch.

That same Swiss timing drove his smooth interventions into his three-quarter line, where he arrived on the end of a pass moving at the optimum speed to exploit fully the power contained inside his 6'1", near-14 stone frame.

That physical presence at the back enabled the Lions to cut loose knowing they would not be exposed in defence: JPR would always protect their line.

The Wales legend, who won 55 caps for his country, was equally protective of his team-mates and never shied away from physical confrontation of any kind. In South Africa in 1974, he had to be restrained by the police when tangling with Springbok great Tommy Bedford - although he admittedly met his match in the clubhouse afterwards when Mrs Bedford entered the fray!

Williams made 15 appearances on each of his tours, scoring 16 points in 1971 and 12 in 1974, including five tries in all.

His style of play made him more of a creator than a finisher and while his kicking was the weakest element of his game, he could still conjure up the unexpected even with his boot.

The 1971 series was sealed by a 50-yard drop-goal in the fourth Test that put the Lions 14-11 ahead and enabled them to finish with a 14-14 draw that gave them the rubber 2-1.

In a tense contest, the manner of the key score was not surprising, the source of it more so as it was JPR who kicked the ball through the posts from such long range. By then, though, his team-mates already knew that, from him, they should always expect the unexpected.

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