Scrumhalf Williams moves up pecking order into Wales team

FILE PHOTO: Rugby Union - England v Wales - IRB Rugby World Cup 2015 Pool A - Twickenham Stadium, London, England - 26/9/15 Dan Biggar and Lloyd Williams of Wales celebrate victory Action Images via Reuters / Henry Browne Livepic/File Photo

(Reuters) - An unexpected call last month ended Lloyd Williams' long international exile and after impressing Wales coach Wayne Pivac he will start against England in the Nations Cup on Saturday.

The 30-year-old scrumhalf won a surprise recall at the end of the Six Nations and his application since means he has moved up the pecking order and starts at Parc y Scarlets in Llanelli.

“We just think that it's a reward for the effort Lloyd has put in. He’s come in and done everything that has been asked of him,” said Pivac told a news conference on Thursday.

“It’s been about speed to the breakdown. When he’s been on the park, we’ve played some of our best rugby, so he gets an opportunity there.”

Williams played on the wing at the 2011 and 2015 World Cup tournaments for Wales but had been out of international rugby for four years when he was called up as an injury replacement for Rhys Webb, who took a knock against France in the post COVID-19 lock down warm-up test in Paris on Oct. 24.

“It came as a surprise because I wasn’t aware of any injuries in the French game,” Williams said.

He went straight onto the bench for the last Six Nations game against Scotland on Oct. 31 and came on for the last 10 minutes to end his long exile.

“I hadn’t give up hope of playing for Wales. I'm always optimistic. It will be a goal of mine as long as I’m playing,” he added.

Williams, who now has 30 caps, is paired with Dan Bigger against England, although the promising Callum Sheedy, who started last weekend’s 18-0 win over Georgia, will get minutes too, Pivac added.

“We looked very closely at what we’re doing at 10,” the Wales coach said. “We’re going to give both guys a chunk of game time. Callum will get out there for a decent part of the second half to see how he goes in this company.

“But to start the game, with the defence and the intensity that England are going to bring, I think Dan’s the right guy to start this game.”

(Writing by Mark Gleeson in Cape Town; Editing by xx)

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