The Scottish Mail on Sunday
Chief Williams takes time to get to the top
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”.’