Wales and Saracens star Liam Williams readily admits he has had the year of his rugby life.
And if Williams can help Wales achieve Rugby World Cup glory in Japan over the next six weeks it would complete a remarkable major trophy Grand Slam.
The free running full-back has arrived at rugby union’s global showpiece following a glittering six months.
During that time, he helped Wales win the Six Nations title in unbeaten fashion, then started both finals as English giants Saracens secured a Champions Cup and Gallagher Premiership double.
It represents a spectacular run of success, and one that the 28-year-old is determined to continue.
“It has been the best year of my life in terms of the rugby aspect,” Williams said.
“I was injured quite a bit in my first year with Saracens. I was fortunate to win the Premiership that year but I didn’t play in the semis or the final because I injured my shoulder, I think it was.
“I missed that and then played a big part last season. I played all the games in the Six Nations as well and it’s a year I will never ever forget.”
Williams’ recent successes – on the back of him featuring in all three Tests for the British & Irish Lions two years ago – have meant hitting a sustained level of excellence to keep him among European rugby’s most elite performers.
And he has nothing but praise for Saracens, a club that continues to drive standards in the domestic and European game.
“You learn off the best players in the world like Owen Farrell and Alex Goode,” Williams added.
“I love the way it is up there. They look after your wives and girlfriends, there is a nursery on site for players in the morning to take your kids to. They’ve thought of every little thing and that’s what makes the club unique.”
It is a long way from Williams’ early working career as a steelworks scaffolder in Port Talbot – although memories came flooding back to him at Wales’ training base in Kitakyushu earlier this week.
#WALvGEO @AlunWynJones to equal the Welsh record of most test appearances when he leads Wales out at the City of Toyota Stadium for #RWC2019 🔴 Cyflawniad haeddianol i'r dyn sy'n arwain Cymru yn Japan. #HWFN— Welsh Rugby Union 🏉 (@WelshRugbyUnion) September 21, 2019
Full story: https://t.co/Ss4hvDpzHz pic.twitter.com/cIFOZM7leF
“We went out on a boat and we went past a steelworks and I felt it was like home from home,” he said.
“It’s probably about eight years or so since I was scaffolding, and if I went back now I wouldn’t have a clue what to do. Everything has changed.”
Hitting the World Cup heights are now his priority, starting with Wales’ opening Pool D clash against Georgia in Toyota City on Monday.
“I am very excited,” he said. “I didn’t play much at the last World Cup as I got injured. I’m really looking forward to it.
“You train and train and train but you want to just get into the games.
“We always put a lot of pressure on ourselves. It’s more expectation and knowing the country back home are expecting good things, and I am pretty sure we will be able to do that.”
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