Scarlets' Scott Williams aiming for PRO12 title after British and Irish Lions omission
By Michael Cantillon
Last Updated: 17/05/17 7:39am
Wales and Scarlets centre Scott Williams has told Sky Sports he has put the disappointment of missing out on Warren Gatland's Lions squad behind him for the time being, and is concentrated on trying to win the Guinness PRO12.
Williams was a part of Wales' Grand Slam campaign in 2012, but has yet to win silverware at club level.
The Scarlets are in superb form, though, having won five games on the bounce heading into their semi-final meeting with Leinster at the RDS on Friday night, live on Sky Sports 1HD.
Having been a part of two semi-final defeats in his career, in 2013 with the Scarlets against Ulster in the PRO12 and as a 22-year-old unused substitute at the 2011 World Cup for Wales against France, Williams is hoping to make it third time lucky against Leinster in Dublin.
"We're playing well at the moment," said Williams. "We're carrying a bit of momentum from the last five games or so but it's tough to go to Leinster any time, especially now that it's the semi-final.
"But like I say, we're playing well and hopefully if we put the same performance in that we did last week [40-17 victory over the Ospreys] then I think we'll have a good chance.
"Every game is a chance to impress [the Lions coaching team] obviously, but I'm not really looking too far ahead to be honest with you. This is only the second semi-final I've ever had with the Scarlets since I've been here in the last eight to 10 years or so.
"I think we've got a good enough squad this season to be able to win the PRO12 so that's what the big focus is on at the moment."
'All the boys want to put that game right'
In fact, the last time Wayne Pivac's side tasted defeat was actually against Leinster at the RDS on March 4, and Williams admits that heavy 45-9 loss will serve as extra motivation for the Scarlets players.
"Yeah I think so," he added. "Looking back, we started that game quite well but we had quite a tough period after that and it was obviously the Six Nations period as well so both teams were missing quite a few players.
"But all the boys here want to put the second half of that game right.
"I think it's probably been one of the most successful seasons since I've been here. We've got a really good bunch of boys here now, a lot of young boys that have come through this season and really stuck their hands up and are really pushing some of the internationals hard for their place in the squad.
"It's a good thing because we've got some good strength in depth, which we haven't had over the last couple of seasons.
"Whereas maybe before we've picked up a couple of injuries and struggled in that position, now, for example last week, we didn't have James Davies and John Barclay. We had Josh Macleod and Will Boyde stepping in and they did a fantastic job.
"It's something we haven't had in the past: we've got a good squad now."
'PRO12 away semi-final record hasn't been mentioned'
A somewhat quirky PRO12 fact is that since the introduction in 2009/10 of semi-finals and a final after the regulation league season has ended, an away side has never won a semi-final tie.
A total of 14 semi-finals have been played since the 2009/10 campaign, yet staggeringly, all 14 have gone the way of the home sides.
Ulster, Glasgow, Ospreys, Munster, and the Scarlets have all been victims over the years, while Leinster, having never had to travel on semi-final day, have won all six of their last-four encounters.
Williams insists such a stat hasn't even been mentioned in the Scarlets camp however, and should they get past Leinster, previous drubbings this season of the other two semi-finalists, Ospreys and Munster, will give them massive confidence.
"That [PRO12 away teams semi-final record] hasn't been mentioned," he added. "But we know it's going to be tough.
"Looking back on the season, we weren't happy with the way we started and that's kind of hurt us a little bit now in being able to get a home semi-final. But if we can improve on last week's performance it'll be a good game.
"Oh yeah, 100 per cent [previous wins over Munster and Ospreys would give Scarlets great confidence in the final].
"It's a tough place to go to Leinster but if you get a win out there you're going to have to be at your best and it would definitely give us massive confidence going to the final."
'No-one has been in touch'
Though tipped by many to be included in the Lions set-up, two of the biggest selection surprises came in Williams' position, as centres Ben Te'o and Jared Payne were included in the 41-man squad.
Williams admits his omission was massively disappointing, and despite Mike Brown's outburst a couple of weeks ago, revealed he hadn't been contacted about a standby list either, possibly suggesting that Gatland and co haven't been in touch with who they may yet call upon.
"I was obviously disappointed but the only thing I can do now is just concentrate on my own performances," said Williams.
"There were a few other boys who were unlucky to miss out as well but I'm just focusing on the Scarlets now and trying to win the PRO12, and a couple of the boys are leaving us this season so just trying to send them off on a high.
"No, no-one has been in touch [about a standby list]. There's been nothing announced as far as I know of but no-one has been in touch."