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Johnny Williams hopes for World Cup call four years after cancer diagnosis

20 Aug 2023 3 minute read
Johnny Williams (centre) in action for Wales against Georgia in 2020. Photo David Davies PA images

Johnny Williams’ World Cup dream could become reality on Monday – four years after he watched the last tournament from a hospital bed.

The Scarlets centre is among Wales head coach Warren Gatland’s midfield options as he puts the finishing touches to his 33-player squad.

And if Williams makes the final cut it would represent a remarkable achievement, given he was diagnosed with testicular cancer at the age of 22 in June 2019.

A four-week course of chemotherapy followed, but Williams was back playing rugby the following year and made his Wales debut against Georgia in November 2020.

“Four years ago, I was watching the World Cup from a hospital bed, so the ability to maybe play at the tournament four years later is hard to sum up in words,” Williams said.

“Every working day has been towards playing for Wales and going to the World Cup ever since I can remember from the age of six-years-old when my dad was bringing me to the stadium to watch Wales.

“It would be hard to sum up, considering where I was four years ago. I have dreamt about one day going to a World Cup.

“My dad took me to Cardiff to watch the internationals. I just remember that I really wanted to be on the pitch and to play for Wales.

“Hopefully, it will all be topped off on Monday with selection for the World Cup.”

England under-20

Williams was born in Weston-super-Mare, won England under-20 honours and represented England in a non-cap game against the Barbarians, but a Welsh qualification via his father, who is from Rhyl, signposted a Test career towards Wales.

The World Cup squad will be announced on Monday, meaning an anxious wait for some players before knowing their fate after Wales’ final warm-up Test ended in a 52-16 defeat against South Africa.

“I’ve got a lot of family down staying with me over the weekend. I will just try not to think about it (selection) too much,” Williams added.

“I am nervous because everyone wants to book their ticket and get on the plane. We are all ambitious and we all want to represent Wales at a World Cup.

“It will be a big day for everyone, and we will all be keeping our fingers crossed.

“These last 12-13 weeks have been the most enjoyable I have had with Wales. We have got close and we will be supporting each other.

“There are going to be some disappointed people and some very proud people as well. It is about being close as a group.

“Just because someone doesn’t make it won’t mean they cannot be a part of it. There could be injuries and they could be called back into the squad.

“It will be about staying positive, staying in touch and dropping people messages.”

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