Six Nations 2016: Ex-scaffolder Liam Williams scaling the heights

By Richard WilliamsBBC Wales Sport
Dan Biggar and Liam Williams
Liam Williams (right) has played 29 times for Wales, but is still the butt of a Dan Biggar joke
Six Nations: England v Wales
Date: Saturday, 12 March Venue: Twickenham Stadium Kick-off: 16:00 GMT
Coverage: Live on S4C, live radio commentary on Radio 5 live sports extra, BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru & BBC Sport website and BBC Sport app, plus live text commentary.

According to one Wales team-mate, he is the scaffolder who is living the dream, but for full-back Liam Williams much of 2015 was an injury nightmare.

The Scarlets man missed Wales' build-up to the World Cup with a broken foot, and sobbed in the changing room at Twickenham when a recurrence ended his comeback after less than three games.

Now Williams, 24, is looking forward to returning to the scene of his darkest moments when Wales face England in the Six Nations.

Both teams are unbeaten, and the winners will be hot favourites to claim the title.

"This is the biggest game you can play in and the one that you really want to be involved in," says Williams.

Liam Williams is helped off the field by Dr Geoff Davies
Liam Williams did not play a full 80 minutes in any of his three starts at the 2015 World Cup

Injury heartache

But flashback to 10 October and Williams cut a desolate figure in the changing rooms after limping off during the Pool A match against Australia.

Sitting alone, he knew his tournament was over and he faced another long spell on the sidelines.

"I lasted until 72 minutes against Australia when I broke the foot again. I knew straight away it was broken because of the pain," said Williams.

"Normally you go back out to sit with the other lads but because the injury was so close to the end of the game I sat in the dressing room on my own.

"It was a pretty dark place. I put my head in my hands and had a bit of 'me-time' and a bit of a cry."

Fans' favourite

If that admission of sensitivity is at odds with the fearless, all-action image which makes Williams a firm favourite with fans, then his background is also a paradox in the world of professional rugby.

Because Williams had a normal job before his talent turned him into a professional sportsman. He was a scaffolder.

Six Nations table

Williams is not convinced that gives him a different attitude to the majority of his team-mates who came through rugby academies.

"I don't know if that's true or not. I think I'm different because that's just my character," he said.

"I know [fly-half] Rhys Priestland worked on a building site when he was young, and maybe [hooker] Scott Baldwin.

"I have worked hard to get here and had to quit being a scaffolder, but that wasn't really a hard thing to do."

Williams admits he was afraid of heights when he first started rigging scaffolding "over the top of a blast furnace, 300 feet from the ground" and that fly-half Dan Biggar still enjoys a joke at his expense.

Gareth Davies scores for Wales against England in the World Cup
Liam Williams missed Gareth Davies' try for Wales against England in the World Cup

"Biggs calls me the scaffolder who's living the dream. He asks people, 'have you ever seen a scaffolder who's living the dream?' And then points and says 'he's over here'."

Dream reality

Williams played in Wales' World Cup win at Twickenham but could not enjoy the celebrations.

Having been accidentally kicked in the head by England's Tom Wood, he woke up in the dressing room.

"Geoffrey Davies [Wales' doctor] was there. We were chatting and as soon as he walked off I heard this massive roar.

"It was the moment when Lloyd Williams kicked inside and Gareth Davies had scored. He came back and told me we were up. After that, I don't remember much because I was groggy.

"Someone told me we had won and I was over the moon. My head didn't feel too bad but I was driven back to Cardiff so I wasn't part of the celebrations."

Different this time?

Williams is not taking his selection for granted, but it would be a major surprise if coach Warren Gatland were to leave him out of his team at Twickenham.

And the Scarlets full-back acknowledges this fixture has an added edge.

Liam Williams receives treatment during Wales' World Cup win over England
Liam Williams has started all of Wales' 2016 Six Nations matches so far

"I don't really get nervous before a game, or at least not until the morning of a game," he continued. "But this is different and I'll be nervous all week.

"England are different to the team that played at the World Cup because they have a new head coach.

"They have tweaked a few things. But if we get our own house in order then there isn't an international team that we can't go out and beat.

"I'm looking forward to it - if selected."

Beat England, and Wales will have a home game against Italy to clinch the title. A dream scenario, if there ever was one.

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