Wales can be best ever says JJ

Lions legend JJ Williams is convinced the current Wales side can eclipse the achievements of his 1970s golden generation. [more]

Wales can be best ever says JJ

Lions legend JJ Williams is convinced the current Wales side can eclipse the achievements of his 1970s golden generation.

Warren Gatland's men face France on Saturday morning in their first appearance in a World Cup semi-final since the inaugural tournament way back in 1987.

Their charge to the final four is drawing comparisons with the class of the late ‘60s and ‘70s, sides that boasted world stars such as Gareth Edwards, Barry John, JPR Williams and Mervyn Davies, as well as flying wing JJ.

And despite admitting being surprised by how quickly this latest generation of young Welshmen have progressed, Williams believes they should be regarded the best ever if they can reach a first global final.

"It's been a bit of a shock to us all. We thought we might get through to the semi-finals but the way we did it and won so convincingly is wonderful for Wales and the World Cup," said Williams who once scored six tries in a single game for the 1974 Lions.

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"We're now back up there with the best in the world and, with our affiliation to the game in Wales, that's exactly where we should always be.

"Everyone talks about us in the 1970s and it's difficult to compare the generations because the game has changed so much. But if they do it and reach the final they will overtake us.

"We were one of the best teams in the world but if they get there and then win the World Cup they are the best Welsh team."

Wales have been in impressive form so far in New Zealand, reaching the semi-finals in style while France have faltered along the way.

Marc Lievremont’s men were beaten by both New Zealand and Tonga but bounced back with a fine win over England in the quarters.

But while Williams is in confident mood ahead of the Eden Park showdown, he is warning his countrymen not to take Les Bleus lightly.

"I'm quite confident we can win. We're the in form team and it's been fantastic to see these outstanding young players to come from nowhere," added Williams.

"It's wonderful to see them have so much confidence in each other and you have to take your hat off to the coaches. They've done a huge amount of work and really pushed fitness levels up and the defence has been huge.

"But you can't underestimate France. It was typical of them to lose to Tonga, knowing they had already pretty much qualified. When they put it all together they are a good side.

"They're not brilliant, there are no outstanding individuals, they’re a strong, physical and efficient side but I really think we can sneak the victory. We just need more of the same.

"Anything can happen and if we beat France then of course we can beat New Zealand or Australia in the final. Both of those teams have had their problems while we've been quite lucky. We've had a few injuries to senior players but in a way they have been god sends because we've seen this outstanding youth come in.

"Every side that has played us at the World Cup and in the summer has found it difficult to break our defence down. Then when we have had opportunities we have taken them. When you have Shane Williams on one side, George North the other and Leigh Halfpenny at fullback you are going to cause problems."

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