John Mulvihill believes Lloyd Williams’ hard work and dedication has paid off and he thoroughly deserves his return to the international arena.
Having been called into the Wales squad earlier this month, Williams has impressed from the bench in the Autumn Nations Cup and will start for the first time in four years when Wayne Pivac’s side face England on Saturday.
Cardiff Blues head coach Mulvihill first met Williams when he was an established member of the Wales squad and he is thrilled to see him back in the limelight.
He said: “The first time I met Lloyd was in 2013. I was coaching Kintetsu in Japan and Wales were touring. We trained against those guys for about 10 days. I met Lloyd there.
“On my first day at the club, I met Lloyd and asked him: ‘What are your goals, mate?’ He told me that he still wanted to get back in and play international rugby. That was his burning desire in 2018.
“Lloyd always trains hard and he deserves what he gets but particularly after this Covid period, he came back a completely different person.
“He’s so strong mentally and has a desire to achieve his goal, which was to get back in a red jersey.
“Nobody deserves it more than him. He’s a really good role model for some of our players that are on the fringe, that could possibly get too focused on selection and not do the work.
“He deserves it and I hope he goes really well.”
With regional teammate Tomos Williams missing out on selection due to injury, Lloyd Williams has been competing with Rhys Webb, Gareth Davies and Keiran Hardy for the number nine jersey.
And Mulvihill believes his all round ability and consistent form in recent months has given him the edge.
Mulvihill continued: “Out of all the nines, he’s the more balanced one. He can run but he might choose not to. He can kick very well off both feet – long, short or high.
“You saw when he came on against Ireland, how quick he was to the ball and people forget about that. When he first came on the scene back in 2011, he was really quick around the base and could linebreak.
“He went against that a little bit when the game became quite defensive and he developed his kicking game. Now he’s marrying up a little bit of both and hopefully you’ll see that on the weekend.”
At 30-years-old, Williams is no spring chicken but he undoubtedly has several years at the top level in front of him.
Mulvihill also reveals that he remains one of the fittest and most diligent players in the Cardiff Blues squad, something that will only prolong his career.
The Australian added: “Easily, he would still be the fittest.cThe only player who would probably get close is our young No.9 Jamie Hill.
“Lloyd is completely different. We live in the same street. I’d go home from training and park the car up near the park. I’m getting out of the car at 5:30pm and he’s heading past me to go for a run.
“I said: ‘Mate, what are you doing?’ and he replied: ‘I just need to get that little bit extra in the legs’. That could be after a double session day. It just goes to show some of the things he does.
“He’s a real professional on and off the field. He’s thrown himself into his studying – he’s doing an MBA at the moment – so he’s got a real focus in other areas outside of rugby as well.
“I think that’s helping him get a really good balance on game day.”