I need to nail my role - Grant Williams on wherever he plays for the Springboks

South Africa's wing Grant Williams runs with the ball during the France 2023 Rugby World Cup Pool B match between South Africa and Tonga at Stade Velodrome in Marseille, south-eastern France

Versatile Springboks back Grant Williams is ready to don the green and gold, regardless of the number on his back at the Rugby World Cup. Picture: Christophe Simon/AFP

Published Oct 6, 2023


Any observers of Sharks training sessions would not have been surprised when Grant Williams was picked to play right wing for South Africa at the Rugby World Cup.

Nor would they have raised an eyebrow at the success he has made playing out of position.

Scrumhalf Williams wins the sprint sessions at the Sharks, and is possibly the quickest player in SA, with his pace making him a try-scoring machine in the United Rugby Championship and now in the World Cup, where he has scored two tries.

The 27-year-old told reporters in France this week that he feels at home out on the wing.

Best position?

Asked which position he prefers, he diplomatically said with a laugh: “At the moment, wing. I’m seeing more space, and there are no forwards hounding me.”

On a serious note, it is only two months since Williams was knocked unconscious in a sickening collision with an errant Argentinian.

That was seconds into the match at Ellis Park on July 29. It was his first start for the Boks, and since then, he has played off the bench twice and twice started on the right wing.

“Seriously, I am happy with whatever role I am allocated during the week, whether it’s wing or scrumhalf,” Williams said.

“Even if I have to scrum, I need to nail my role.”

Williams would have been pleased to welcome back his Sharks teammate Lukhanyo Am, who was called up following an injury to another Shark, Makazole Mapimpi.

‘Everybody loves Lukhanyo’

“Everyone enjoys Lukhanyo. If you don’t enjoy Lukhanyo, then there’s something wrong with you,” he said.

“He’s an incredible leader at the Sharks, and in the Springbok environment. We’re getting a quality player back.”

It will be interesting to see whether Williams is able to force his way into the Bok match-23 for a possible World Cup quarter-final next weekend – most likely against France, although everything depends on what happens in the Pool B clash between Ireland and Scotland on Saturday at the Stade de France.

There are still three outcomes possible in the group, but one out of the Boks, Ireland and Scotland are going to miss out on the knockout round.

Faf de Klerk is the favourite to wear the No 9 jersey, but Williams could offer a serious threat off the bench with his speed across the ground.

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