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'I hated the Welsh team, everything associated with it and Steve Hansen with a passion'

By Paul Smith
Winger-turned-pundit Shane Williams

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In a new three-part documentary Wales legend Shane Williams has revealed that at one time he “hated Welsh rugby and head coach Steve Hansen with a passion.”

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Viewers of ‘Slammed’ which is being screened nightly on BBC Wales from this evening, will see Williams explain how Hansen’s arrival derailed his Test career.

When the Kiwi took over from Graham Henry in 2002 Williams had scored 10 tries in his first 10 Tests but Hansen had concerns over the winger’s size and therefore refused to select him in the early days of his reign.

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Williams told the documentary makers: “I remember one of my first meetings with Steve when the conversation was basically: ‘You’re not big enough, you’re not physical enough, your defence isn’t quite good enough and I’m not going to select you in this Welsh team.’

“My heart just sank. I thought I was doing alright and you’re taking this dream away from me. You’ve come over from New Zealand and taken this dream away from me, how dare you.”

Williams goes on to explain how this affected his attitude towards his country’s national team over the period in 2003 when he was outside the squad.

“I was watching the Six Nations, Wales weren’t doing particularly well and I was quite happy,” he admits.

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“I hated the Welsh team, hated everything associated with it, hated Steve Hansen with a passion.

“I went through a slump when Steve dropped me from the team. I was taking creatine, spending more time in the gym, working on my guns and everything else instead of working on my speed.

“I put on a stone of weight in a few weeks and it just didn’t work. Yes, I was more muscular but my pace had slowed, I was getting injuries and I was missing games.

“It was just a vicious circle. It was a horrible time in my life, the worst two years in my rugby life, for sure.

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“One day it just clicked. Stop thinking about Steve Hansen, stop worrying about what he has said. Work on your speed, your fitness and let’s go.”

And after losing ten consecutive matches, Hansen made changes among which Williams returned to the squad ahead of the 2003 World Cup.

After a spell on the fringes his chance eventually came when Wales fielded a weakened side in their final pool stage match against the All Blacks having already secured a place in the knock-out stages.

Wales lost the match but their four tries in a 53-37 defeat included a Williams touchdown and from there he went on to earn 87 Wales caps and four Lions appearances during a glittering career that included 60 Test tries.

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