6 Nov 2022
Williams insists Wales can bounce back against USA
Wales suffered a 154-6 to world champions France in their opening wheelchair clash
By Megan Armitage
Wales captain Stuart Williams insisted his team must step up their performance against the USA for a chance at a semi-final spot.
The 37-year-old was realistic about his team's path following their disheartening 154-6 loss to reigning champions France in their opening Group B match.
After finishing in the bronze medal position last time out in 2017, Williams knows his team must stay focused against an unknown Hawks team and hopes their mindset can lead the way to a successful run.
He said: "We need to beat the USA and Scotland realistically and we also have the points system against us with that France score.
"It's going to be a situation where we have to significantly step our game up.
"We will be watching the USA and pinpointing the dynamics of their play and I look forward to that challenge.
"I definitely lost my head a little bit in that first half against France and moments like that can be the difference between becoming champion or not.
"It's an honour to be here representing my country. This is the pinnacle of wheelchair rugby league and the Rugby League World Cup have done so much to make it feel like the men's and the women's tournaments which is wonderful."
USA head coach Geoff Mason refused to dismiss the challenge of Wales following the Hawks' 62-41 victory over Scotland in their first ever international match.
Mason has assessed the strengths of their Group B opponents and knows that the Welsh fight will make it a tough battle.
He said: "I watched a bit of that Wales versus France game, obviously the French as world champions are on a level of their own so that will be a tough game but we're not underestimating the challenge that Wales will give us.
"If we could make semi-finals that would be massive.”
Captain Jeff Townsend reiterated his coach's need for focus but had an overarching sense of pride for his team after claiming their first international victory less than two years after forming.
"Two years ago we had no players so to go from nothing to this is quite an accomplishment," explained Townsend.
"But we've come together brilliantly and added Matt Wooloff who's here in the UK and he's gelled really quickly with the team, despite only joining us last Monday."
The Rugby League World Cup promises to be the biggest, best and most inclusive event in the sport’s 127-year history with men’s, women’s and wheelchair teams competing in 61 games across 21 venues throughout England. Tickets are available via rlwc2021.com/tickets