Liam Williams column: Defence departures, losing with Wales and an autumn fresh start


Liam Williams

Date: Friday 13 November Kick-off:19:00 GMT Venue: Aviva Stadium, Dublin
Coverage: Live on BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru, BBC Radio Ulster, BBC Sport website and app

In his latest BBC Wales Sport column, Liam Williams looks back on a week where defence coach Byron Hayward has left the Wales set-up, outlines the raw feelings of defeat in a Wales jersey and why the Autumn Nations Cup needs to be a fresh start for Wayne Pivac’s side.

It has been a challenging time since we lost to Scotland and we have also seen the departure of defence coach Byron Hayward.

Wales head coach Wayne Pivac told us in a team meeting and it’s never nice when somebody loses their job. Speaking to the coaches, they had a Six Nations debrief and Byron was involved in this.

It was one of our worst Six Nations for a while so they have had an agreement to part ways.

Byron is the kind of guy who wants to put his country first. He is a is a pretty level-headed guy and he’s happy to step down because results haven’t been going our way.

He coached me for a couple of years at the Scarlets before I left for Saracens when we won the Pro12 in 2017. He was great back at the Scarlets and one of the reasons we won the league.

When people lose their job there are often headlines made but we also have to remember there are people behind that. He is a good guy and fingers crossed he will get a job soon.

We have got Gethin Jenkins in at the moment who is working more on the defence. What you see is what you get with Gethin.

He has 129 Wales caps and is a good coach to come in. He is new and bringing some good energy to the group. He is a bit of a character and can be quite straight with you at times.

It is good when somebody who knows the score at international level comes in. He knows the boys well and understands the game.

There is definitely pressure around at the moment. We have lost five games on the bounce. Some of that pressure is on Wayne as head coach but I’m sure he’s coping fine.

He is not the one that takes the field and it’s down to players to get the win, so we need to take responsibility. We speak a lot in the week in team meetings and say what we’re going to do in our game plan, so it’s down to us as a team to go out and deliver that.

So some of that responsibility comes down to us as well, it’s not just down to Wayne. He’s the head coach and oversees it all, but it’s the players who need to improve on the performances and put things right.

The Scotland defeat was tough to take. The most disappointing thing is we didn’t fire a shot in attack and that has to change.

‘Keyboard warriors’

I just wanted to try and get across what it feels like when you lose a game for Wales. It’s actually a terrible feeling when you are sitting in the changing room thinking how did we lose that?

There’s a lot of stick going around on social media. We were Six Nations champions and World Cup semi-finalists last year so we don’t become a bad team overnight. But with a whole new coaching team here, it’s going to take time for us to get back to that level.

We know what the external reaction is going to be like when we lose. You’re always going to get the keyboard warriors, that’s just the way it is.

Everybody’s entitled to their opinion but when somebody tweets me and you have a look at that tweet when they are slating everybody, you know what kind of person that is.

One who sits behind the keyboard and abuses people, when if we saw them in person they would never say it to our faces. They’re just cowards.

If we play badly we know we are playing badly. We’re not doing it on purpose where you make decisions in a split-second, whether it be the right or wrong one.

If it’s the wrong one you know straightaway that you should have chosen the other option. That’s sport, nobody’s perfect.

There is always a lot of external noise when we have lost but I can say the mood is pretty good at the moment.

Skipper Alun Wyn Jones always speaks about us being in our own bubble here and we don’t tend to listen to anything outside of that bubble.

We are here to do a job and concentrate on our game. If we get our own house in order, we will be alright. Nobody outside the group knows what that is like.

All the boys have bought into the new coaches, especially some of the younger guys who haven’t been coached by the other guys before them.

The role of the senior players is huge. We have quite a few older heads here and they have been fantastic with the likes of Alun Wyn, Dan Biggar and Jonathan Davies setting an example.

The message is the Six Nations is done now and the line has been drawn in the sand. We can’t change those results so we’ve been working hard this week, the energy has been good, surprisingly good after five defeats. This is a new competition so let’s give it a good crack.

Liam Williams played his 64th international for Wales in the recent 14-10 defeat against Scotland
Liam Williams played his 64th international for Wales in the recent 14-10 defeat against Scotland

It starts against Ireland on Friday night and I love playing in Dublin. It’s a great place to play and they are a good bunch of boys.

James Lowe is making his debut on the wing for them and I have played against him quite a few times for Saracens against Leinster. He is a big threat going forward and good defensively and aerially.

There are quite a few milestones coming into this game for Welsh players with Tomas Francis celebrating 50 caps and there has been some banter from Dan Biggar this week saying they give caps to anybody these days.

Tomas is a good bloke and has been playing well for Exeter over the last couple of years.

We have said a lot about Alun Wyn Jones last week when he broke the world record and he will make his 150th international appearance against Ireland. He has had enough praise and he will agree with me on that!

And George North will win his 100th cap when he comes off the replacements’ bench, a remarkable achievement at just 28. although he sometimes still behaves like he is eight!

He has been phenomenal for Wales over the years after making his debut at 18 and this game will be exactly 10 years to the day he put on the shirt for the first time against South Africa.

He will be trying to get the wing shirt back off me and that competition in the back three is great, while at the other end of the scale Callum Sheedy could win his first cap off the bench.

But all in all, Wayne has picked an experienced side so there will be no excuses this weekend.

We know it’s time to deliver.



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