Ex-Wales wing Shane Williams takes ambassador role with Neath

Shane Williams celebrates scoring a try for Wales
Shane Williams made his debut for Wales in 2000

Shane Williams is taking up an ambassadorial role with Neath RFC, the club where he first made his name.

The 38-year-old will also help with coaching at the Gnoll, where he played before joining Ospreys when regional rugby started in 2003.

There is the possibility Williams could play the occasional game for Neath.

"I'll do a bit of coaching myself and who knows, perhaps don the boots and get out on the Gnoll again," said Wales' leading try-scorer.

Shane Williams

"Behind the scenes I can be involved in an ambassadorial role, help to get bums on seats here again and make Neath the club it should be and was once.

Williams played his final game in February 2015, nearly four years after his last game for Wales, but has returned to his roots in the Amman Valley.

"The affiliation with Neath has always been there and always will be," Williams said.

"I've been speaking with [Neath owner] Mike Cuddy for some time now about getting involved.

"Obviously I've got other commitments at the moment with the Rugby World Cup and family business, but we decided it was time for me to come back and hopefully help Neath out in any capacity I can and make the club successful again."

Shane Williams playing for Neath against Llanelli in 1999
Shane Williams is tackled by Wayne Proctor in a match between Neath and Llanelli in 1999

Neath is a historically significant club that has helped develop a number of top-class internationals such as fly-half Jonathan Davies, Lewis Jones and current Wales full-back Leigh Halfpenny.

However, the Welsh Premier Division club has experienced financial problems in recent seasons and struggled on the pitch.

In July, club owner Geraint Hawkes was banned from being a company director for 10 years over undeclared VAT.

Three month earlier, fans called on the Welsh Rugby Union to intervene in the club's ownership.

"It's been a tough few years for the players, for the coaching staff, for the fans and for Neath and hopefully my involvement can help turn that around," Williams said.

He had been approached by Merthyr RFC but turned down a player-coach role at the ambitious Welsh championship club.

And while Williams' role at the Gnoll is mainly ambassadorial, he is happy to lend a hand on the coaching side if required.

"I'm not here to step on anyone's toes... any involvement or help I can do for the team will be great," he added.

"I'm not here to oversee them either, that's not the point of me being here. I'm here to help out, I'm here for the experience."

Williams made the last of his 87 appearances for Wales against Australia on 3 December 2011, scoring a try with his final touch of the ball.

It was his 58th touchdown for his country and 60th in Test matches, making him the third highest try-scorer in the history of international rugby.

He scored two tries for Ospreys in the 31-10 win over Leinster in the 2012 Pro 12 final, and made his final appearance at the Millennium Stadium for the Barbarians against Wales in June the same year.

Following that, Williams spent two seasons in Japan with Mitsubishi Dynaboars, where he also took on coaching responsibilities in his final year.

While playing in Japan, Williams was called up by head coach Warren Gatland as injury cover for one British and Irish Lions provincial match against ACT Brumbies.

Williams had previously toured with the Lions in New Zealand in 2005 and South Africa in 2009.

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