Former Welsh international Shane Williams, capped 87 times by his native country spoke exclusively to Talking Rugby Union about his upcoming participation in Friday's Rugby Aid charity game.
The ex-British and Irish Lion revealed it was an easy decision to decide to take part in Rugby Aid as part of the Rest of World XV set to take on England at the Twickenham Stoop.
”When I saw the work and the commitment that had gone into it and obviously I saw the charity work and the players on the team roster it was a no-brainer really. Charity work is something I do a lot of and it was a chance to get the boots on and play in front of a crowd and raise some money”
The inaugural Rugby Aid 2015 game will pit mixed teams of national celebrities and former international rugby in aid of Rugby For Heroes which raises funds and awareness through the sport of rugby, the fan community and the wider professional player network to support military personnel who are making the transition back from military service to civilian life.
And Williams, 38, stated that ensuring he was back to match fitness having retired in 2014 was the key to preparing for Friday night.
“Its important to make sure you’re fit and prepared for Friday’s game and you make sure you go out there and show your worth because you know there’s going to be a big crowd at the Twickenham Stoop. Its all about match fitness and making sure you’re able to not only go out there and enjoy yourself but be able to play proper rugby too.”
Now working as a pundit back in Wales, Williams also revealed which of the participating celebrities had already proven themselves dapped hands with the oval ball.
“We had our first training session today and I was impressed to see Gethin Jones who certainly knows his stuff but I think he’s come from a rugby background in Wales; he certainly talks a good game and I think he’s showing he does know what he’s talking about so that’s impressive for us. We’ve got Harry from McBusted here, just watching him out on the field he seems to know what he’s doing and he’s very quick. There are celebrities here who are familiar with rugby and seem to be enjoying themselves and who want to learn and want to play well on Friday which is great.”
And when asked if there was anybody he was particularly looking forward to playing with or against on the field again, Williams was coy.
“We’ve got Brad Thorn from the All Blacks who I’ve come second best against a couple of times and Justin Marshall who I’ve played with and against a number of times who its great to see again as well as Lee Bryne and Dafydd James so its going to be interesting. The England setup has Paul Sackey and Mark Cueto who I’ve played against and had tussles with over the years so there’s a lot of people here who its good to see again, its good to have some of them in my team, and it’ll be fun playing against some of them as well. That’s what this is about, its about having fun and meeting up with some guys you haven’t seen in a long time.”
Managed by Neil Back MBE with Assistant Manager Richard Hill MBE
Celebrities: Louie Spence (dancer), Vassos Alexander (Radio 2/5 Live), Gary Beadle (Celebrity Geordie Shore), Harry Judd (McBusted), JB Gill (JLS), Jamie Laing (Actor Made In Chelsea), Rav Wilding (TV Presenter), Terry Hollands (England’s Strongest Man), Kelvin Fletcher (Actor Emmerdale), Tom Parker (Pop Star The Wanted), Dion Dublin (Footballer & TV presenter).
Rugby: Mike Tindall (c), Kevin Yates, Nick Kennedy, Andy Gomarsall MBE, Tom May, Iain Balshaw MBE, Jason Robinson MBE, Paul Sackey, Mark Cueto, Ugo Monye, Lee Mears, Simon Shaw, Ben Cohen MBE, Pat Sanderson
Rest of the World
Managed by Zinzan Brooke, assisted by coach Sean Holley, Bryan Redpath, Paul Wallace and Ryan Jones.
Celebrities: Brian McFadden (popstar), Gethin Jones (TV Presenter), Craig Doyle (TV Presenter), Matt Johnson (TV Presenter), Julian Lewis Jones (Actor Invictus), Robbie Savage (Football Pundit), Richard Hadfield (Singer Colabro)
Rugby: Shane Williams MBE (c), Justin Marshall, Brad Thorn, Shane Byrne, Thom Evans, Shane Byrne, Waisale Serevi, Al Kellock, AJ Venter, Serge Betsen, Rory Lawson, Terry Fanolua, Daryl Gibson, Dafydd James, Lee Byrne, Thomas Castaignede, Thinus Delport.
Rugby Aid kicks-off at the Twickenham Stoop at 7.45pm on Friday 4th September. Tickets are £20 and available to buy via www.tickets.quins.co.uk or on the night with all proceeds going to Rugby For Heroes, which raises funds and awareness through the sport of rugby to support military personnel. Rugby Aid is also exclusively live on BT Sport 1 from 7.00pm.