Shane Williams on the mend for Wales at World Cup
Updated: September 29, 2011, 00:00
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HAMILTON, New Zealand(AP) Injured Wales winger Shane Williams should be available for the Rugby World Cup match against Fiji on Sunday, but the team's record try-scorer says he'll understand if he's saved for the quarterfinals.
Williams missed the 81-7 win over Namibia on Monday in New Plymouth with a thigh strain, but ran well in Thursday's practice.
"Shane came through a good training session this morning,'' said assistant coach Rob Howley. "We might not select him for this weekend. We are pretty mindful. Shane is pretty important to us.''
Williams said if he wasn't in the team to be named on Friday, "I'd be disappointed. But I've got to take it on the chin.''
The team's other concerns, utility back James Hook and flanker Dan Lydiate, who were injured in the 17-10 win over Samoa on Sept. 18, were on track to be available for the quarterfinals next week.
Hook hurt an AC joint and Lydiate strained an ankle ligament. Lydiate has been running, while Hook may start next week.
Howley, the former Wales captain who did two tours with the British and Irish Lions, said they had too much respect for Fiji to be thinking of the quarterfinals.
"In terms of the big picture, we'll be quite strong on Sunday afternoon,'' he said. "Our collision dominance is what we've been concentrating on. I think that we are quietly confident.
"It's just about not getting ahead of yourself. Sunday is our next game. If it's a good game, then we can look ahead to the quarterfinals.''
Howley's caution is justified. Fiji blew a 13-6 lead and drew 16-16 with Wales with an injury-time penalty last November in Millennium Stadium.
That was the sixth result in an eight-match winless streak for Wales.
"It keeps your feet on the ground having had that experience back in the autumn series,'' Howley said. "It's not a bad thing, in terms of the Welsh psyche. Sometimes we get ahead of ourselves and we think we're better than we are. But we realize how good this Fiji side are.''