The Scottish Mail on Sunday

Chief Wil­liams takes time to get to the top

- By Will Kelle­her Sports · Rugby · England · England national football team · Exeter · Exeter City F.C. · Championship · Argentina · The Chiefs (New Zealand)

IT IS ap­pro­pri­ate that Harry Wil­liams’ Eng­land de­but came at a venue off the beaten track yes­ter­day.

The Ex­eter tight-head prop has made the jour­ney to a Test cap by the road less trav­elled.

Two years ago, Wil­liams was plucked from Cham­pi­onship ob­scu­rity and in Ar­gentina he has re­alised an im­pos­si­ble dream.

‘A few years ago when I made the de­ci­sion to be a pro­fes­sional rugby player I never thought about be­com­ing an in­ter­na­tional,’ he said. ‘All I ever wanted to be was a Premier­ship player.

‘The only time I re­ally thought about it was when Neal Hat­ley (Eng­land’s scrum coach) came down around the end of March and said I was on the radar.

‘Af­ter that it was busi­ness as usual. They gave me a few things to work on. Them and Chiefs got their heads to­gether and gave me a few sim­ple things to keep do­ing and when the squad came out three weeks later I was there.

‘I knew I was in the mix but that didn’t stop it be­ing a proud day.’

At 25 years old the tat­tooed, long­haired mav­er­ick is not the youngest Eng­land rookie on this Ar­gentina tour but he is cer­tainly the heav­i­est.

Weigh­ing in at 20st 9lbs Wil­liams is quite the sight, his curly locks bulging out of his scrum-cap, and this is the slimmed down ver­sion.

Over the course of the sea­son he has shed two stone, Rob Bax­ter whip­ping him into shape in Devon.

And Wil­liams is grate­ful to his Chiefs coach, who has made Ex­eter kings of English rugby by pol­ish­ing rough di­a­monds from the lower leagues.

‘What sets Rob apart is the fact he is so dili­gent,’ said Wil­liams. ‘The first time I went down there he had coded ten of my games, gone through all of them and seen ev­ery­thing I had done. The amount of times it has hap­pened is ridicu­lous. I think he is go­ing into an un­tapped re­source (in the Cham­pi­onship).

‘A lot of coaches don’t look there and think: “I will sign some­one for a bin bag full of cash from over­seas” and he thinks: “If I do a bit of re­search and delve into a few teams I can prob­a­bly get a few good finds”.’

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