IRB World Player of the Year Shane Williams believes the British & Irish Lions will take a strong team to South Africa this summer.
Speaking after his Welsh team lost their grip on the RBS 6 Nations championship with their 17-15 home defeat to Ireland, the Ospreys wing claimed “rugby in Britain and Ireland is probably the strongest it has ever been.”
Williams extended his Welsh try record to 46 during the championship with tries against Scotland and Italy and is hoping to make his second trip with the Lions.
And he believes that if Ian McGeechan and his coaching team get the selection process right then there is every chance the Lions can repeat their test series triumph of 12 years ago.
“We’ve got some great players and some great teams and it is going to be a difficult selection process,” said Williams.
“The rugby is strong – and it is going to have to be to go to South Africa and play the world champions in their back yard. I’d love to be a part of it and, hopefully, there will be a lot of players from Wales and Ireland going on the tour.”
“It’s an anxious time for a lot of the boys, but at least there are a few high profile games left with the Ospreys. The Lions is wide open and I guess we’ll have to wait and see what happens.
“There are a lot of boys in the championship who have hit form at the right time and they will be putting their hands up for this tour.”
While Williams, who scored two wonderful tries against the Springboks in South Africa last summer for his country, is considered a shoe-in for both the tour and the Test team, one of his team mates is not so convinced he is going to get the nod for a second tour.
According to controversial centre Gavin Henson there won’t be many Welshmen making the trip with the Lions after losing their Grand Slam status.
Asked about his hopes for making the Lions side, he said: “Not that good when you finish fourth in the championship. I’m not sure if many of us will be going on that trip now.
“Luckily some of us in the Ospreys still have a chance to make a claim for it because we are involved in so many competitions, but it is out of our hands now.”