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Johnny Williams urges Wales fans to keep faith

30 Nov 2020 / 09:00 H.

UNITED KINGDOM: Johnny Williams (pix) pleaded for patience from Wales fans following another loss under coach Wayne Pivac.

Saturday's 24-13 Autumn Nations Cup defeat by England in Llanelli was Wales' seventh loss in nine Tests since Pivac succeeded Warren Gatland, his fellow New Zealander, as coach after last year's World Cup.

Nevertheless, it was Wales' strongest showing of the Nations Cup, with Williams stunning Six Nations champions England by scoring the opening try at his Scarlets home ground in what was just the centre's second Test appearance.

England go forward to a tournament final against France at Twickenham next weekend,while Wales must make do with a play-off against Italy.

But Williams insisted Wales were making progress ahead of the 2023 World Cup in France.

"I know fans have been going nuts and stuff, but just keep your patience with us. We will keep building," he said.

"We are building for 2023, and there is definitely a good mix of youth and experience. We are just going to get better and better.

"It was a big improvement (against England). We were ready for that physical battle, and I think we were physical ourselves. Of course we are not happy with the scoreline, but we are happy with how we are building."

Williams' performance was all the more creditable given his return to professional rugby following a testicular cancer diagnosis in 2019.

"I have come a long way in the past 18 months, and I can look back with pride," he said. "If you had told me at the time that in 18 months I would be starting against England and getting my first try, I wouldn't have believed you. I am grateful for that."

Last year, Wales won the Six Nations with a Grand Slam and reach the semifinals of the World Cup in Japan.

Injuries have not helped Wales as Pivac tries to change their approach in attack.

"We are learning about the guys that are available, but there were five British and Irish Lions unavailable (against England), and a number of other players that have been at the forefront of the selectors' minds that are unavailable," said Pivac.

"I sound like a broken record, but we are looking at this (Nations Cup) series as an opportunity and to look at the depth of the squad going forward."

The former Scarlets boss added: "If we look at the World Cup squad from 2019 to 2023, there would be a lot of guys in the age bracket of 33 to 38.

"We know that there will have to be change, and some of that is happening at the moment."

Meanwhile England prop Ellis Genge denied butting Tomas Francis after footage of the pair's tussle at Parc Y Scarlets appeared on social media.

"Thanks for all the Twitter TMO (television match official) reviews but I didn't headbutt anyone, thanks for all the messages of support for today – love this group!" tweeted Genge. – AFP

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