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Shane Williams reminds he 'will not go on forever'

Shane Williams

'Humbled' Shane's frustration

Shane Williams admits he "will not go on forever" but the Wales wing says neither will he completely rule out a Six Nations return in 2012.

Williams' knee injury has put him out of Wales' match in France on Saturday and also, seemingly of the Six Nations.

But Wales coach Warren Gatland is urging Williams to continue after his planned international retirement after the 2011 World Cup.

"I want to be realistic and I can't go on forever," Williams insisted.

The British and Irish Lion, who has scored a record 53 tries in 79 Wales caps, said before the 2011 Championship he would retire from international rugby after Rugby World Cup in New Zealand.

Williams had thought Wales' trip to Paris on Saturday would be his Six Nations swansong but he was ruled out of the France game because of a knee injury sustained in the 19-13 defeat of Ireland.

He injured the posterior cruciate ligament in his left knee hurdling Luke Fitzgerald in the 22nd minute in Cardiff on 12 March.

But the Wales coaching team have highlighted the personal bests Williams still achieves in training.

The Ospreys star's sprint times and strength work are better than ever despite him being one of rugby's veterans.

Attack coach Rob Howley admits the Welsh management hope to talk the double Grand Slam-winner out of retiring following the World Cup as "his ability to turn defenders inside out and make something out of nothing are priceless assets."

Shane Williams

A try tribute to Shane Williams

But while Williams "would never say never" to playing again in the Six Nations, he said young players Leigh Halfpenny, George North and Morgan Stoddart deserve their international chances.

The 2009 IRB International Player of the Year admits: "Realistically this would have been my last Six Nations.

"I never want say never and I never wanted to retire playing rugby full stop but I'm trying to be a little sensible.

"I'm sure there will be boys in my position playing better rugby than me and look much sharper next year.

"I know there are boys George, Stodds and the Halfpenny pushing for my place, I just feel at 35 there will be better players then me out there - that's the realistic thing.

"In myself and physically I'm feeling really good but I've got to look ahead to my future as I can't get knocked around the field as much as I am at 35 and 36 years of age because it will take its toll in the end.

"The reason I said it [international retirement] is I want to be realistic and I can't go on forever and want to make sure the boys in my position ready to play for Wales and I want Wales to do well, whether that is with me or without me then we'll have to wait and see.

"I haven't signed a contract saying I would never play for Wales again in the Six Nations and you don't know what is around the corner. But I want to be a little bit sensible about things."

Williams, who returned from a shoulder injury just before the Six Nations, will also miss the Magners League title run-in as the Ospreys bid to before the first team to win it twice in a row.

Williams' Six Nations ended

He has warned Wales' World Cup rivals - including opening opponents South Africa, the defending champions - that he is still not finished on the world stage.

"There is more to come from me," he insists. "This is a big year for me."

Gatland hopes some trademark banter will persuade Williams to stay on beyond the World Cup as he questioned his performance against the Irish.

"Probably Shane's more disappointed because as a last Six Nations game for Wales, he probably didn't play one of his best games did he?" said Gatland.

"I don't think anything's set in stone."

But Gatland admits: "He has been an unbelievable servant for us. He has been a talisman."

Williams, whose Ospreys contract expires in the summer, has been linked with a summer move to France after the World Cup, possibly following Ospreys colleagues James Hook and Lee Byrne, who will join Perpignan and Clermont Auvergne respectively.

Should Williams remain in Wales, it may affect his thinking about retiring after the World Cup.

"I have been talking to Shane in the last couple of weeks, and I hope that he has not played his last game in the Six Nations," admitted Wales attack coach Howley.

"He has got the World Cup and the summer games coming up, and from all the physical data we are getting from him in training - his speed, the first five and 10 metres time - he is one of our quickest backs, if not the quickest.

"I am sure there is plenty of fuel left in his tank. Any side in world rugby will miss Shane - we hope he changes his mind."

Teenage Scarlets wing North replaces Williams in France and the pupil is honoured to take over from the master.

"Shane is a legend of the game," said North.

"If I play half as well as Shane, then I will have had a good game. It's a great honour to play in Shane's position.

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see also
Williams set for three months out
18 Mar 11 |  Welsh
Wing Williams out of France clash
17 Mar 11 |  Welsh
Williams confirms Six Nations end
14 Mar 11 |  Welsh
Prop Jones ready for French test
15 Mar 11 |  Welsh
Lievremont shrugs off sack talk
15 Mar 11 |  Rugby Union
Six big-name changes for France
13 Mar 11 |  Rugby Union
Wales 19-13 Ireland
12 Mar 11 |  Rugby Union
Shane's Six Nations injury fear
18 Nov 10 |  Welsh
Williams dreading retirement date
18 Feb 11 |  Welsh
Williams is offered Ospreys exit
22 Jan 11 |  Ospreys
BBC Sport Wales coverage
03 Oct 11 |  Wales
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