Veteran Wales wing Shane Williams admits the lure of one last roar from the Millennium Stadium crowd in Cardiff may cause him to postpone his international retirement for another match.
The 34-year-old wing has worn the scarlet jersey for more than a decade, scoring 56 test tries and establishing a reputation as one of the most explosive, fleet-footed and tricky wings in rugby.
He will definitely retire after playing against Australia – it just depends which match.
The Welsh face the Wallabies in Friday’s third-place match at the World Cup. They then meet in December in Cardiff – giving Williams the chance of a home send-off.
“Of course it would be fantastic to have the chance to bow out at the Millennium Stadium. Let’s wait and see,” Williams said on Tuesday. “I said I’d love to go out winning the World Cup, obviously that’s not going to happen.
“The offer has been put there for me to play at a home match against Australia. I really don’t know. I’d love to be able to play at home and have the chance to have my family and friends there.”
Williams said he’ll make the call, rather than have it made for him.
“I’ve always said that I’d rather retire than be retired. Nothing’s changed there, really. You know in your heart when it’s time to move on,” said Williams, who will continue to play for Welsh club Ospreys. “It’s been in the back of mind for a while, of course it’s an emotional time.”
As the senior member of the squad, Williams has been around long enough to recognise a genuine team spirit when he sees one. He thinks that carried Wales to within a whisker of the final.
“No one really gave us a chance really. All the belief came from within,” he said. “It’s probably the first time I’ve gone into a Welsh team into a major tournament feeling so confident.”
Williams is not sure how long he will carry on playing at club level. He would actually rather not think about it.
“I haven’t looked that far ahead to be honest. Every time I thought about it, it depressed me,” he said. “I’ve had a great time, I’ve loved every minute of it, especially this tournament. I wouldn’t change anything, I’ve had a good story along the way.”
At least when he does leave the international scene he will no longer have to torture himself over getting old. The young players in the current Wales squad have been ribbing him over his age.
“They’ve got cheekier and cheekier as the tournament’s gone on. I’m getting at that age now when I’m just getting depressed just looking at these guys and looking at their date of birth,” he said. “They’ve been great throughout the tournament. I could swear some of them have been playing for 20 years with the experience they’ve showed on the field.”
Gatland hailed Williams’ contribution to Welsh rugby.
“For a player of that stature to score as many tries as he has, he’s been an absolute superstar for Wales,” Gatland said, “One of the most exciting players in the northern hemisphere.”