‘We’ll beat any­one, any­where’

Ge­orge Wil­liams is adamant the War­riors’ pop-gun at­tack is primed to ex­plode

Rugby League Week - - Pre Game - BY PHIL WILKIN­SON

ENG­LAND HALF GE­ORGE Wil­liams is aim­ing to end his grand fi­nal mis­ery – and prove Wi­gan’s doubters wrong.

The War­riors’ mis­fir­ing at­tack has come in for brutal crit­i­cism for most of the sea­son. Leg­end Garry Schofield fired both bar­rels at the glamour side, ac­cus­ing them of “bor­ing ev­ery­body sense­less” dur­ing the Su­per Eights phase of the com­pe­ti­tion.

Yet they stand only 80 min­utes away from a fourth suc­ces­sive ap­pear­ance at Old Traf­ford.

And Wil­liams – one of their bright­est stars – is hop­ing to not only progress but make it third time lucky, hav­ing lost in both his grand fi­nal ap­pear­ances in the last two sea­sons.

“We’ve been bagged quite a bit this year, peo­ple say­ing that we’ve not been play­ing well,” Wil­liams tells

RLW. “It’s hard not to read it when it’s out there and you’re be­ing tagged into [re­marks on so­cial me­dia], but we can’t . . . all we can fo­cus on is our job. And we’re still there.

“I’ve played and lost in two grand fi­nals, and I couldn’t imag­ine that feel­ing again. I’m re­ally hun­gry to win one.”

Wil­liams, last sea­son’s Young Player of the Year, ac­cepts there’s been merit to the crit­i­cism.

“We’ve not been happy with how we’ve played at times,” the 21-yearold ad­mits. “But we’ve found ways to win. We’re in a con­fi­dent mood – we be­lieve we’ll beat any­one, any­where.”

Wi­gan’s con­fi­dence has been boosted by Su­per League vic­to­ries against all their play-offs ri­vals – St He­lens, Hull FC and War­ring­ton – within the last five weeks.

“To have that go­ing into the semis is mas­sive,” adds Wil­liams, who’s sport­ing a blond-rinse as a pun­ish­ment for be­ing late for train­ing.

And if he needed any extra in­cen­tive, he knows this week­end – and the grand fi­nal, if they get that far – pro­vides the last chance to im­press new Eng­land coach Wayne Ben­nett be­fore he picks his Four Na­tions squad.

Wil­liams broke into the Test side last year, fig­ur­ing in two of the three matches against New Zealand, and has since de­vel­oped as a player.

He ad­mits he’d be dis­ap­pointed to miss out, es­pe­cially if his place goes to an Aus­tralian who qual­i­fies for the Poms through ances­try. New­cas­tle’s Trent Hod­kin­son is among those who’ve been linked with a call-up.

Wil­liams has echoed re­marks by in­ter­na­tional team-mates in­clud­ing Ge­orge Burgess, Liam Far­rell, Zak Har­daker – and for­mer Test cap­tains Paul Sculthorpe and Kevin Sin­field – op­pos­ing calling up “plas­tic Poms”.

“I’m not a fan of that at all,” he says. “Re­gard­less of who it is or what po­si­tion, I don’t think it’s fair.

“I don’t think you’d see an English­man play­ing for Aus­tralia, so I don’t see why we should let an Aussie play for Eng­land.

“I’d like to get picked – it’d be a mas­sive hon­our – and if I didn’t I’d feel it was a back­wards step. But that’s not up to me, all I can do is try and play the best I can.”

Wi­gan’s path to Old Traf­ford is blocked by Hull FC, who have al­ready won one tro­phy this year – the Chal­lenge Cup fi­nal. Mi­nor pre­miers War­ring­ton host St He­lens in the other semi-fi­nal. Most book­mak­ers have in­stalled Wi­gan as favourites af­ter a 48-24 de­mo­li­tion of Cata­lans in their last match.

“They didn’t show up to play, so it took any sting out of the game, and we lost in­ter­est as well,” Kiwi cen­tre An­thony Gelling ad­mits. “But in the semis, ev­ery­one will show up.

“We’re click­ing at the right time. In the last few weeks we’ve been good, and it’s two more games to go.

“These last three years has been hard with no tro­phies, so I def­i­nitely want to win some­thing.”

St He­lens have lost only one of their last 12 matches, while War­ring­ton are hop­ing to get for­mer Knights cap­tain Kurt Gi­d­ley back.

The two semi-fi­nal win­ners will meet in the Su­per League grand fi­nal at Old Traf­ford on Oc­to­ber 8.

“I’ve played and lost in two grand fi­nals, and I couldn’t imag­ine that feel­ing again”

POINT TO PROVE Wil­liams is con­fi­dent glamour club Wi­gan will aim up when it re­ally counts.

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