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'There's a whole new playbook': New master plan for Springboks won't stop Lions playing with flair says Liam Williams

By PA

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Liam Williams initiated one of the British and Irish Lions’ greatest tries but the Wales star is now more focused on creating fresh memories by going on the attack against South Africa.

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Williams is one of three starters in the team picked for Saturday’s pre-tour showdown with Japan at Murrayfield who were present for the first Test in New Zealand four years ago.

While the tourists ultimately fell to a 30-15 defeat in Auckland, they also engineered one of the most electric moments in their history as Sean O’Brien finished a move that started deep inside their own 22.

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Springbok assistant coach on Duhan van der Merwe
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Springbok assistant coach on Duhan van der Merwe

Williams recalls it vividly, helped by its ubiquitous presence on social media.

“It keeps popping up on Instagram! So I’m, ‘Oh not again! Oh go on then!’,” said Williams, who has played only once since the Six Nations because of a foot problem.

“It all happened so quick. Anthony Watson passes me the ball and I see Kieran Read out of the corner of my eye. It’s just instinct, I guess.

“There’s a bit of space, I thought I’m going to need to go. Step in and then a palm on Aaron Cruden. Ben Te’o’s good block on Sonny Bill Williams.

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“Then my legs went a little bit and I had to wait for Jonathan Davies to come up and help. Then the boys were just great to finish it off. Sean O’Brien over the line.

“I have a look at it every now and then but I don’t want to live in the past. I’ve been picked by the Lions again, which is an honour and a privilege.”

And, having been given another chance to tour with the elite of British and Irish rugby as he aims to retain the 15 jersey against the Springboks, he is determined to honour his own instincts.

“You have set-piece calls and calls for phase play but at the end of the day you’ve got to play what’s in front of you,” Williams said.

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“That for me is probably one of my strengths. If it’s on to go, then we are going to have a go.

“We’re looking to spread the ball as well, whether that be through the backs or even through the forwards.”

Williams is part of the Lions’ entertainments committee which is headed by strength and conditioning coach Huw Bennett, a former Wales hooker, and has set up a FIFA competition for the squad’s gamers that will take place at their Jersey camp this week.

A more pressing concern, however, is learning the moves that will be used across the nine fixtures that comprise the tour to South Africa.

“There’s a whole new playbook. It will take us more than a couple of weeks to get that spot on,” Williams said.

“I have been calling some of the calls we have with Wales, the Scottish boys have been calling some of their calls.

“It’s exciting seeing a whole new playbook in team meetings, but to put that into practice it will take a couple of weeks.

“Every individual is completely different in how they learn. I could sit on a laptop for 10 hours a day and it just won’t stick in so I need to be doing it on the training pitch.”

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'There's a whole new playbook': New master plan for Springboks won't stop Lions playing with flair says Liam Williams

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