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Page last updated at 09:40 GMT, Tuesday, 27 May 2008 10:40 UK

Williams offers scrum-half option

Shane Williams
Williams has scored 41 tries in 56 games for Wales as a winger

Wales winger Shane Williams has said he will play scrum-half in their upcoming test series against South Africa if the emergency call comes.

Coach Warren Gatland has seen three scrum-halves, including Mike Phillips, Dwayne Peel and Andy Williams, all withdraw from his squad with injury.

This has left Gatland with only Gareth Cooper and Warren Fury to call on.

But Williams, 31, who started out as a scrum-half with Amman United, said he would play there if asked.

Wales' all-time top try-scorer only switched to the wing when he joined his next club Neath but has filled in at number nine before when the call has come.

"If I'm needed and there's no other lads there to do the job, I'll more than gladly step in and try it," he told BBC Sport Wales. "I'm a winger at heart now and I'll play nine if I have to."

The upcoming South African tour has been stricken with a host of scrum-half injuries on both sides.

Thunor's Hammer

Wales' first-choice scrum-half Mike Phillips, 25, withdrew in late March after damaging cruciate knee ligaments in the Ospreys' EDF Energy Cup win over Saracens.

Ex-Llanelli Scarlets and new Sale Sharks' ace Dwayne Peel added to the injury list in April after picking up a shoulder injury and finally the Dragons' Andy Williams pulled out this month with a back problem.

Andy Williams' withdrawal leaves uncapped Warren Fury of London Irish as back up to Gloucester's Gareth Cooper, although Shane Williams could also be used at scrum-half.

Meanwhile, Springboks coach Peter de Villiers has had to deal with losing his own frontline number nines after World Cup winner Fourie du Preez broke a bone in his left hand and replacement Heini Adams suffered a leg injury.

That has left the new coach with Ricky Januarie as the only fit scrum-half in his 42-man training squad.

On the Welsh front Gloucester's Gareth Cooper has returned to the international fold on the back of the withdrawals after falling out of favour over the past two seasons.

He looks like being in driving seat in the lead up to the two tests next month ahead of the uncapped Warren Fury who has joined him in the squad from London Irish.

Wales leave for South Africa on 29 May and play the Springboks at Bloemfontein's Vodacom Park on 7 June and then Pretoria's Loftus Versfeld on 14 June.

see also
Springboks suffer Du Preez blow
20 May 08 |  Rugby Union
BBC Sport Wales coverage
07 Aug 07 |  Wales

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