Jacques van der Westhuyzen

By Jacques van der Westhuyzen

Head of Sport

Grant Williams on playing wing and the return of Am to Bok squad

The Boks have a bye this weekend before they will fully turn their attention to the World Cup quarter-finals.

Springbok scrumhalf turned wing, Grant Williams, isn’t bothered about what position he plays in as long as he is able to contribute to the team.

Williams is one of four scrumhalves in the 33-man Bok squad playing at the Rugby World Cup in France, but has so far been selected on the wing, in the matches against Romania and Tonga, where he has shown he is more than comfortable in the position.

The regular scrumhalf though was only moved out wide by the Boks’ coaching team before the start of the World Cup; he has only really played scrumhalf for his provincial team, the Sharks.

Playing wing

But Williams’ speed and stepping ability make him a big attacking option out wide, while he’s also able to cover for the scrumhalf if needed when the action is on his side of the field.

“I’ll fulfil any role that I’m selected in,” said the 27-year-old on Wednesday.

“I’m enjoying wing because there is more space, but I enjoy both positions.”

With his ability to cover just about every position in the backline Williams was viewed as the perfect backline replacement for the Boks, especially when they opt for a 6-2 or 7-1 split on their replacements bench.

So far though, it has been another scrumhalf, Cobus Reinach, who has been the versatile backline bench-sitter. It remains to be seen what the Boks’ management will do with their make-up of their bench when the quarter-finals come around next week — with the Boks set to take on either France or New Zealand in a last-eight match.

If Faf de Klerk starts and remains the first choice No 9, as he has been for several years now, who’ll be the back-up 9 on the bench — Reinach or Williams, and what will the bench look like: will it include one back, two backs, or three, and will the Boks go into the match with both flyhalves Handre Pollard and Manie Libbok in the matchday-23?

Return of Am

Also, is there any chance of Lukhanyo Am getting a look-in for the quarter-finals, having joined the Boks just this week?

Williams says it’s great to have his franchise team-mate back in the squad, in place of the injured Makazole Mapimpi.

“He’s a good leader and everyone enjoys him in the Springboks and Sharks environment,” said Williams about Am.

For now, the Boks are preparing for a quarter-final next weekend, though they will only know for sure on Saturday night if they have qualified for the last-eight and who they’ll be up against, following the last pool match between Ireland and Scotland.

“We can only focus on ourselves this week, so we’ll wait until the weekend to see who we could play against and then focus on them.”