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Page last updated at 16:52 GMT, Monday, 8 June 2009 17:52 UK

Martyn Williams column

Martyn Williams
By Martyn Williams
Wales and Lions flanker

Typical. We have had wonderful weather on the Highveld for the past two weeks but now we have got to Durban, with a hotel next to the beach, it's absolutely pouring down!

Simon Shaw
Wonderful weather on the Highveld has been replaced by rain in Durban

Sunday was our one full day off together this week and Ugo Monye has been charged with telling us the things to do, and not to do, each time we turn up at a new location.

Some of the boys went snorkelling, a few went to play golf, and another group of us went to a local marine park.

But I left them to it when they went on the water slides - I've spent a lot of time with the physios recently with my shoulder injury and my main focus is on getting myself right.

Any injury on tour is really frustrating, especially when you can't remember how it happened. Mine came on during our opening match against the Royal XV but I am not really sure how.

I just woke up on the Sunday morning and couldn't lift my arm above shoulder height.

Fortunately, the coaches and medical staff have been brilliant and they haven't rushed me.

I was supposed to play against the Cheetahs on Saturday but I trained last Thursday and it didn't react well, so I had an injection in my shoulder the same day.

After that you can't do anything for three days, but slowly and surely I am getting back into it. I started light training again on Monday. It wasn't a full session for me but I am not playing on Wednesday so the coaches have given me all week to try to get it better.

I have had no reaction so far and hopefully I'll be ready to go by Thursday or Friday. I am pretty positive and the medical staff are quite optimistic too.

Martyn Williams
I've only just returned to training after my shoulder injury

The whole mood in the camp is very upbeat and Euan Murray and Luke Fitzgerald have been tasked with providing a joke every day on the bus to training. I'd have to say Euan's winning hands down at the moment.

The next two games, against the Sharks on Wednesday, and Western Province on Saturday, are going to be massive for all the players in terms of Test selection.

Performances in these matches are going to make up the coaches' minds and it would have been better if I'd been able to get more game time.

But you can't worry about it - you just have to try to get back as soon as you can and then take your chance when it comes. Fingers crossed, mine will come on Saturday.

As players we have no idea if Wednesday's line-up is the Test team or the one that plays against Western Province. We are probably as much in the dark as everyone else.

"Geech" made it clear from day one that everyone was going to get an opportunity in the first three games and that different combinations would be tried.

The coaches have stated they wouldn't look at the Test team until probably next Monday, after the Western Province game, and that keeps everyone on their toes.

There is nothing more disheartening as a group if you know from day one who is going to be in the Test side and who is making up the numbers.


Players are not dull, and it is brilliant at the moment because no-one is sitting back thinking 'I am in the Test team'. Everyone is looking over their shoulder.

There seems to be a bit of doom and gloom in the media about our prospects after Saturday's win over the Cheetahs, but people forget we didn't lose the game.

It was a similar feeling after the first tour game in Rustenburg. Obviously, we would have liked to have played better, but it is not easy out here.

It is still early days on tour and some of the boys were having their first hit-out, and playing together for the first time.

We have analysed the game and know there is a lot to work on, but there were a lot of good things to come out of the game, too.

Much of the talk has been about the breakdown but it wasn't an issue last Wednesday against the Golden Lions or for the first 20 minutes on Saturday, when our attack was so fluent. We struggled a bit after that but it is frustrating to hear if you are a forward.

Cheetahs v Lions
Lessons will be learned from our narrow victory over the Cheetahs

The crux of it is that if you are on the front foot, attacking well, getting over the gain line and cleaning out rucks, you don't have an issue - the breakdown takes care of itself.

But if you are not getting over the gain line and getting gang-tackled, it has a knock-on effect. Their number six (Cheetahs flanker Heinrich Brussow) had an outstanding game on Saturday and it is definitely something we are working on.

It is good we have picked up these things now and we have learnt a lot from these first few games. The game is played differently in the southern hemisphere, particularly at the tackle area, and there is sometimes a difference of interpretation by referees.

But hopefully the longer the tour goes on the more we will get used to that and make sure we have everything in place for that first Test.

It will be good to see Neil Jenkins, who is coming out as a kicking coach, when we get to Cape Town later this week.

He has worked a lot with Stephen Jones and James Hook with Wales and all the backs in the squad will get the benefit of his advice when it comes to their kicking out of hand.

"Jenks" was a big part of the successful 1997 tour here and he is going to add to the coaches we already have.

Martyn Williams was talking to BBC Sport's Bryn Palmer

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see also
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Cheetahs 24-26 Lions
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Golden Lions v Lions photos
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Martyn Williams column
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Lions display worries O'Connell
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Royal XV 25-37 Lions
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2009 Lions: Squad & results
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Lions squad selector
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History of the Lions
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Mighty Boks: South African rugby
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