Shane Williams insists the 2009 British and Irish Lions team can win the three-match Test series in South Africa next summer – and he desperately wants to be part of it.
The Welsh wonder wing has just returned from South Africa, but despite Wales going down in both Tests (43-17 and 37-21) he touched down today with his own reputation fully intact thanks to two tries in each match.
His performances have prompted some of the world’s leading rugby figures to dub Williams – who has scored 43 tries in 58 internationals – the best wing in the world, especially after his try against the Springboks in Pretoria on Saturday.
Flying South Africa wing Bryan Habana for one described Williams as a “fantastic player” and the Ospreys star said: “I’m really enjoying my rugby at the moment with a smile on my face and when you have players like Bryan Habana singing your praises it certainly means something.
“To get respect off someone like Bryan you must be doing something right but I’m not going to let it go to my head.”
But ominously for his opponents, Williams firmly believes he can return an even better player next season.
“I’ve got a couple of seasons left in me and I hope to get better and better as I go on.
“I’m enjoying my rugby more and more these days and I’m learning more as I train and play, so hopefully next year I will be better. That’s what I’m striving for.”
Williams admits he has one eye on becoming a two-times Lion selection next summer and is confident the tourists will give the Springboks more than a run for their money.
“I’d love to be part of the Lions,” he said.
“It’s still a long way away. It’s only next season but there is a lot of rugby to be played between now and then.
“I do really believe the Lions can do well out in South Africa. With South Africa you come up against a great team with some of the best players in the world but with the calibre of players we have in Britain and Ireland at the moment I think we are capable of taking a very strong side out there.
“It will be difficult because not many teams go out there and win, but I’m confident the Lions can do well.”
On his season and Wales’ performance in South Africa, Williams added: “It’s been a remarkable season and I have enjoyed every minute of it. It’s gone perfectly for me and I was determined to go to South Africa and play well.
“I enjoyed the two Tests even though the results did not go our way.
“The mistakes we made in the first Test were quite horrendous to be honest, and we were determined to not make those same mistakes we made in the first Test at Bloemfontein.
“We had a lot at pride at stake on Saturday and the way the boys came out on Saturday was tremendous.
“The belief was there even before the first game and we knew we just didn’t perform well. The way we bounced back in the second Test was admirable.
“It was a massive effort and we still believe now we could have won that game. The score flattered the Springboks slightly but that is the way rugby goes sometimes.”