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Page last updated at 13:18 GMT, Thursday, 14 May 2009 14:18 UK

Australian Williams snubs Wales

Rhys Williams

Middlesbrough defender Rhys Williams has opted for Australia rather than Wales to play international football.

Australian-born Williams, 20, has 10 caps for Wales Under-21s but has yet to play for the senior side.

"I had some great times with Wales and I don't regret my time with the Under-21s," Williams told the Middlesbrough website.

"But once Australia showed a firm interest in me there was only one way it was going to go."

Williams was born in Perth, Western Australia, but qualified to play for Wales through his grandmother.

The youngster is also eligible to play for England through his father and India through his mother.

However, Williams has opted to play senior international football for the Socceroos after being contacted by manager Pim Verbeek.

"I was born and bred in Australia, so it is natural that I should want to play for them," Williams added.

If Wales had pulled Rhys into the first-team squad a little bit earlier... he wouldn't have been able to go and play for Australia

Agent Gary Williams

"Pim told me all about his plans for the future and made it clear that I was going to be a part of them, so I was keen to get all the paperwork sorted as soon as possible."

"I can't wait to get involved for the first time. We have a few friendlies during the summer and it would be great if I could make my first start then."

Williams has been on loan at Championship side Burnley since January and helped Owen Coyle's Clarets reach the play-offs.

The player's agent, Gary Williams, believes Wales missed out on their chance to make Williams a full international in the World Cup qualifiers earlier this year.

"If Wales had pulled him into the first-team squad a little bit earlier and shown a bit of interest in him being in the first-team squad, then he wouldn't have been able to go and play for Australia," agent Gary Williams said.

"After consideration and a lot of pressure from his family in Australia, he has decided to play for Australia.

"He had a great time for Wales and he thinks it has helped put him on track."

"[Wales Under-21 coach] Brian Flynn has really helped him a lot in his career and he appreciates all that, but the pull of the homeland was just a little bit too much for him in the end."

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BBC Sport Wales coverage
03 Oct 11 |  Wales

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