The Hard Road

Cell C Sharks scrumhalf Grant Williams journey to professional rugby has been a longer road than others, but he has made a name for himself at his franchise, and is making great strides towards becoming a permanent fixture in the Springbok set-up as well.

His solo effort from 40m out opened the scoring against Ulster last weekend and his blistering pace was the difference between his attack and the flailing defence. We’ve come to expect some sniping runs from him and he has scored many an exciting try.

But it wasn’t always so.

“I only developed a bit of speed after school and I’ve been working on it ever since,” he explains. “I’ve never been like a fully professional athlete or anything like that, but I’d spend my holidays in Cape Town doing speed training with a professional coach, including things like hill training.”

His route to this point has been different to many of his fellow rugby players, “I had to play club rugby to get to Springbok level, so patience has been with me from the start. I didn’t get a contract straight out of school, and that’s when a lot of guys give up. Developing through the club rugby system is different and it takes more time, so I’ve had to learn patience. But it’s easier now, I know what it takes and sometimes you just have to wait and your time will come.

“But in saying all of that, I don’t believe I have a point to prove. At the moment I’m more focused into putting everything into the Cell C Sharks right now, on delivering a complete performance for my team. That’s what we need at the moment.”

His partnership with flyhalf Curwin Bosch is an important one and the two seem to complement each other.

“That started in 2018 when I made my Super Rugby debut. Curwin has been there ever since and I’m really happy for him, he’s on form and playing well and hopefully I can contribute to him playing well this whole season.”

Then there is the scrumhalf rivalry with Jaden Hendrikse, but that too is a positive relationship.

‘’Jaden’s a very close friend of mine and that rivalry brings out the best in both of us. Having to compete every week makes for good, healthy competition and we push each other all the time.”

Reflecting on the last outing against the DHL Stormers at Hollywoodbets Kings Park, Williams pushes aside any notion of revenge, instead he admits that: “The focus is on us, first of all to be better than last week. We know what went wrong in the last Stormers match, we just need to fix those things. We’ve been together as a group for a while and we need to work together, for each other and if we do that, things will go well.”

The Sharks have welcomed back a number of players since that last meeting, “And hopefully we’ll be a much strong side and that we can deliver.

“I’m really excited to go down to Cape Town, to see my family and play in front of them, and to express myself.

“We all know that they play a good brand of exciting rugby, they’re an all-round side and we need to find ways to get the ball in our court and then play well from there. They like to throw the ball around and that’s what we’re expecting from them.”