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Williams reckons he will look good in red!

Johnny Williams in training

Williams reckons he will look good in red!

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Not so long ago Johnny Williams was lining up with Callum Sheedy in an England shirt at Twickenham, but there will be no prouder Welshman in Llanelli this weekend when he makes his international debut against Georgia.

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The rugby wheel really will has come full-circle for the 24-year-old, who played for Wales at U16 level before converting to England U17, 18 and 20 levels when playing at London Irish and winning the World Rugby Junior Championship. Then, in 2019, he scored a try for an England XV in their win over the Barbarians.

But when your Rhyl-born father christens you John Bleddyn Rees Williams it is pretty hard to deny your true pedigree – especially when you were taken to the holy shrine of Welsh rugby, the Principality Stadium, from the age of six.

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He may have been born in Weston-super-Mare, and learned his rugby at Redingensians RFC, but he quickly became a part of the Welsh Exiles programme and played his first representative rugby in a red shirt. Now he is ready to graduate into the ultimate jersey against Georgia on his new home patch, Parc Y Scarlets.

“There is a lot of excitement and a lot of nerves. I have been patient and it has taken a lot of graft and effort to get here, but I’m very grateful the chance has come,” said Williams.

“It has been a roller coaster journey for me. The goal has always been to get back on the field and to get to where I am today – I have never taken my eye off the ball.

“There have been some tough times, but now I am ready to represent my country. I do consider myself as Welsh, even though I don’t have the accent.

“I have always been a huge supporter of Welsh rugby and my Dad has had a debenture at the Principality Stadium for many years. I went with him there to games ever since I was six,

“I want to play for Wales and I’ve got the opportunity to do that at the weekend and to play hard.”

There was a time when Williams was wondering whether or not he would be able to play again when he was struck down with a cancer scare. He watched last year’s World Cup from a hospital bed and lost his hair due to chemotherapy treatment.

His is one of the more incredible, and inspiring, rugby stories of recent years and winning on his Welsh debut this weekend would merely add another incredible chapter.

“The cancer scare was worry and I learned a lot going through that. But I’ve come through it, I’m out the other side and I’m back to playing some really good rugby,” added Williams, who transferred to the Scarlets from Newcastle falcons in the summer with a view to realising his ambition to play for Wales.

“Last year Callum and I were in an England shirt and that was an opportunity for me to showcase myself and to prove I could play international rugby. But I’m happier playing for Wales and I think I’ll look better in a red shirt!

“It’s a massive shame the game won’t be at the Principality. That was one of the biggest reasons I wanted to play for Wales, to experience the atmosphere there.

“But it won’t ruin the occasion for me and playing at Parc Y Scarlets, a ground with which I am familiar, will make it easier for me winning my first cap.

“We know what Georgia will bring – they are a physical bunch and big up front. We are all just excited to be playing for Wales and we want to stop the losing streak.”

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