Williams to provide in Classic defence
Shane Williams, Wales’ record try scorer, heads a list of star names set to grace the World Rugby Classic at the North Field, National Sports Centre, in November.
Williams will be among several exciting newcomers including fly half Andrew Mehrtens, one of the All Blacks most-loved players, and former England centre Riki Flutey, who will turn out for his birth country New Zealand.
Fourth on the list of Test try scorers with 58 tries, Williams is his country’s most capped winger and part of Wales’ 2005 and 2008 Grand Slam-winning teams.
The 39-year-old will be joined in the Classic Lions squad by compatriot and fly half Ceri Sweeney, who made his Classic debut last year, as well as former Ireland centre James Downey and Richie Ree, who was capped nine times for Wales at scrum half.
Other Lions players making the annual trip to the island are flanker Dave Corkery, of Ireland, former England centre Ollie Smith and Neil Best, a flanker who played 122 times for Ulster Rugby.
It was case of role reversal in last year’s final as the Classic Lions stormed to a comfortable 22-5 victory over the All Blacks in a repeat of the previous year’s showpiece match, which New Zealand comfortably won.
Mehrtens, an icon of New Zealand rugby, is another of this year’s leading lights, with the 43-year-old holding the All Blacks points record until it was surpassed by fly half Dan Cater in 2009.
The Classic All Blacks squad has a number of other decorated names such as forward Reuben Thorne, who won 50 caps for his country, and 36-year-old Flutey, who played his international rugby for England but represented New Zealand at all age groups.
A familiar face in the South Africa party include full back Percy Montgomery, who held the all-time records for both caps and points when he returned from international rugby.
Conrad Jantjies, a full back who played 24 Tests, and Tonderai Chavhanga, who was capped on the wing four times, are also included in the Classic Springboks squad.
This year’s Classic, which runs from November 6 to 12, features Lions, All Blacks, Pumas, United States, Springboks, Italy, France and Canada.
The opening match will pit Lions against Italy at 2.30pm, with Canada taking on South Africa at 4pm.