FORMER Rams RFC junior Johnny Williams admitted he was ‘ecstatic’ to make his Wales debut in their 18-0 Autumn Nations Cup victory against Georgia on Saturday, writes Richard Ashton.
The 24-year-old ex Forest School student has endured a tumultuous year-and-a-half in which he has overcome testicular cancer, but turned in a fine display at Parc y Scarlets to complete an inspirational recovery.
Reflecting on the occasion, Williams revealed: “I was so excited, so proud to have earned it – it’s been a goal of mine since the age of six, so to finally do it was so surreal and to get the win as well (was great).
“It’s a shame my family couldn’t be there and it’s not at the Principality Stadium, but it’s still huge and I can’t believe it’s finally happened.”
He continued: “While singing the anthem I was thinking about all the friends and family who have given support to me over the years, my girlfriend Hannah, and all the sacrifices I’ve had to make and what I’ve been through – it’s crazy.
“To finally represent Wales is an honour and I’m ecstatic to finally get my cap.”
Williams learnt his craft at Rams as a Mini and Junior before moving onto play for London Irish, Newcastle Falcons and latterly Scarlets – who he joined in the summer – and he was also a starter in England Under 20s’ World Championship final win against Ireland back in 2016.
He also scored a try for England in an uncapped contest against Barbarians last summer, but with his father Gareth being a fervent Welshmen, Williams said: “I’ve always been a huge, huge supporter of Welsh rugby even if I don’t have the accent.”
Starting at inside centre ,Williams enjoyed a solid debut and played a key role in helping secure the Rhys Webb score which finished off the game with his side’s second try, his powerful running across the gain line allowing time for the ball to be spread out wide for the touchdown.
Fellow centre, Nick Tompkins, was certainly impressed as he said: “He’s good isn’t he? You tell him to run at something and he goes 100mph. He’s awesome to play with. He’s young, spirited and works hard – what more could you ask for?
“It’s class to play outside him – he opens up space for you. He’s doing well, working hard, doing everything he needs to push the guys ahead of him.”
And Wales coach, Wayne Pivac, concluded: “Johnny was one of the people who had a role to play there and I thought he did a very good job.
“He was certainly excited heading into the game and he was excited in the changing rooms after the game.
“He thoroughly enjoyed it and enjoyed the workload. By and large, he did a good job.”