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Last Updated: Wednesday, 23 April, 2003, 13:51 GMT 14:51 UK
Williams wants more of the same
By Jim Stokes

Munster captain Jim Williams made his Australian debut against Ireland
Jim Williams is proud to be associated with Munster

Jim Williams did not know what to expect when he signed on for Munster two seasons ago.

He knew he was heading for a culture shock - and he got it, right from the first training session.

Since that day nearly 18 months ago, Williams has gone from strength to strength and put all those nagging doubts behind him.

Now comes his biggest test when Munster head for Toulouse in the hope of making their third Heineken Cup final in four seasons.

The former Wallaby back-row forward found that life in Munster was reciprocal. Do the hard yards, do not hide, and you gain respect in a part of Ireland where rugby is not so much a religion as a way of life.

So much did Williams garner that respect he was made captain of last season's beaten Heineken Cup finalists when that Munster icon Mick Galwey stepped down.

He has not looked back since. Having already held aloft the Celtic League trophy following their success over Neath at the Millennium Stadium, Williams craves for more success from his ''family''.

"When I first came here, I was very surprised at the whole rugby ethics,'' said Williams, who won the first of his 14 Wallaby caps against Ireland back in 1999.

''It was more a family group than a team of rugby players. It was something I hadn't really experienced before and at this stage won't experience again. But it has been very special.''

There is a steel-like determination that I have never seen even in my best days in the southern hemisphere
Jim Williams
Williams, though, is still not convinced that Munster have reached their pinnacle. He believes that there is plenty more in tank for the semi-final trip to Toulouse.

"It was a very special feeling to have beaten Leicester and it's a sign of how much this team is capable of.

"Quite honestly, I'm proud to play alongside them. There are some quite remarkable personalities in this team.

"We found ourselves playing against the European champions on their home patch but even the youngsters weren't fazed by that. More of the same will be needed for Toulouse.

"There is a steel-like determination that I have never seen even in my best days in the southern hemisphere."

To stop Leicester playing their normally flowing game was one aspect of the Welford Road semi-final that stood out with Williams pointing to the strength of Munster's tackling.

"That was the first point of our attack and we managed to put them under huge pressure as a result.

''People may point to the number of mistakes Leicester made but I would argue we forced them into a lot of them.

Munster coach Alan Gaffney was formally assistant with Leinster
Gaffney knows what to do to beat Toulouse
"Leicester are past masters are slowing opposition possession down but it didn't work for them because we were very focused on the cleaning out process.

''We took a very aggressive attitude and we managed to do to Leicester what they had hoped to do on us.

''I suppose the same game plan will apply to Toulouse.''

Munster Coach Alan Gaffney said his side knew what to do to beat Leicester, and he also reckons it will be more of the same against Toulouse.

"That will certainly be the case again at the Stade Toulouse," said the Austrailan-born coach who took over the reigns at Munster when Declan Kidney moved upstairs to the international side.

"They have been to the forefront of the competition since it began and they have proved themselves over and over again this season.

"The challenge will be equally as big as it was in Leicester but the value of beating the champions is to know we are capable of winning the big matches, the tight ones, especially away from home.

"Toulouse are full of class internationals and the fact they are effectively playing at home makes it very tough for us.

"But we will go into the game with plenty of confidence after qualifying from such a tough Pool.''




SEE ALSO
Corrigan fit for semi-final
15 Apr 03  |  European Club
Mullins revels in revenge
14 Apr 03  |  European Club
Munster end Leicester dream
13 Apr 03  |  European Club

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