Scott’s sure un­der­dogs will seize the day in Dublin

The Rugby Paper - - News - By ST­EF­FAN THOMAS

SCOTT Williams is con­fi­dent the Scar­lets are a good bet to over­come the odds against Le­in­ster and ruin plans for an all-Ir­ish Cham­pi­ons Cup fi­nal.

The book­ies have made Wayne Pi­vac’s side sig­nif­i­cant un­der­dogs for Satur­day’s Euro­pean semi­fi­nal at the Aviva Sta­dium, de­spite the Scar­lets go­ing to Dublin and beat­ing Le­in­ster last sea­son.

Cen­tre Williams ad­mits be­ing writ­ten off has stoked the Scar­lets’ fires as they aim to be­come the first Welsh re­gion to be crowned cham­pi­ons of Europe.

“Yes, it has an­noyed us,” the 27-year-old told The

Rugby Pa­per. “It was the same last year when no­body ex­pected us to win, but we knew we could do it. The book­ies have ruled us out com­pletely.

“We can’t gam­ble our­selves as play­ers, but I think we are 5/1 to beat Le­in­ster and 9/1 to win the whole com­pe­ti­tion. If I had £20 spare I’d def­i­nitely put it on us beat­ing Le­in­ster and win­ning the whole thing.”

Af­ter 11 years of ser­vice to the Scar­lets, Williams will switch to Ospreys in the sum­mer, but with his cur­rent em­ploy­ers still fight­ing for both Euro­pean and PRO14 glory, the New­cas­tle Em­lyn prod­uct is hope­ful of a dream send off.

“Grow­ing up sup­port­ing and watch­ing the Scar­lets, there was only one thing I ever wanted to do and that was to be a pro­fes­sional rugby player with them,” Williams said.

“We want to win both com­pe­ti­tions and we can do that. We’ve fronted up in the big games over the last few sea­sons and we now re­ally thrive on those chal­lenges. There’s no dam­age lim­i­ta­tion in­volved with us, we are go­ing out there to win and we are con­fi­dent we can do that.

“If we play the way we know we can, as we did against Bath for ex­am­ple, then we can beat Le­in­ster. It would be a nice way to fin­ish my stint here by win­ning the dou­ble.”

De­spite hav­ing ev­ery con­fi­dence in his side’s abil­ity, Williams re­spects the qual­ity three-time Euro­pean cham­pi­ons Le­in­ster have in their ranks but says his team is not fazed by the prospect of play­ing at the Aviva.

He added: “It’s not ex­actly a neu­tral venue – it’s ba­si­cally Le­in­ster’s home ground – but we went to their home patch in the semi-fi­nal last year and won.

“They’ve got some out­stand­ing play­ers and, more im­por­tantly, play­ers who are play­ing well. Johnny Sex­ton is their go-to guy and con­trols the way they play. Hope­fully he has an off-day but it’s about mak­ing sure we ex­e­cute the way we want to play and fo­cus on our­selves.

“It might be rain­ing so we may have to re­vert to a tighter game so it’s about be­ing smart and mak­ing the right call at the time.”

Mun­ster and Rac­ing 92 com­plete the Cham­pi­ons Cup’s last four, but when asked if there will be an al­lIre­land fi­nal, Williams gave a sim­ple re­sponse: “No.”

PIC­TURES: Getty Im­ages

Hop­ing to sign off in style: Scott Williams

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