Rugby World Cup sensation Shane Williams has admitted he feared his international career was over the last time he played for Wales in Cardiff. The pint-sized wing returns more than two years since his last appearance at the Millennium Stadium in the rearranged Lloyds TSB Six Nations fixture against Ireland in October 2001.
It was to be a hugely frustrating time for Williams who had burst onto the scene as a baby-faced 22-year-old with lightning pace and could turn direction on a six-pence.
Williams scored eleven tries in his first eleven appearances but saw his career stutter to a standstill amid injuries and concern that he was too small for modern Test rugby.
"I have changed a lot since then. I have learned from the experience of being in and then out of the limelight and grown up a lot," said Williams. "After that (Ireland) game I really began to get the feeling that I didn't have much of a future as a Wales wing.
"It was a really frustrating period because things were not going well for me, I was having a lot of problems with my hamstring and missed a lot of rugby.
"Even after playing the friendly against Romania last summer, I never got over that feeling until right before the Rugby World Cup. In Australia, my confidence was well down. I wasn't even involved in the training because I wasn't involved in any of the pool games.
"It was a long four weeks so when I finally got the chance against the All Blacks I knew I had to grab it with both hands and show Steve (Hansen) he was wrong not to pick me. I wanted to show what I could do and prove he had made a mistake. Luckily enough I got that chance."
The performances against New Zealand and then England made Williams and Wales a crowd favourite at the Rugby World Cup and has given rise to a new wave of genuine optimism in the Valleys as they head into tomorrow's RBS Six Nations opener against Scotland.
"The fact that the All Blacks scored so early, ninety seconds, actually became a positive thing," added Williams. "We knew if we didn't pull together things could get embarrassing. Previously, I think we've been intimidated by sides like New Zealand but this time there was anger, at ourselves.
"Then we really started to play some rugby and showed we could compete with anyone. We really felt we could win. I remember thinking as the game went on, it was the Rugby World Cup, we were beating the All Blacks and there was no where else in the world I wanted to be more than on that field."
Since returning home to a welcome normally reserved for Rugby World Cup winners rather than losing quarter-finalists, Williams and Wales have gone back to the training ground to ensure Australia does not prove to be another false dawn as a proud rugby nation once again expects.
"Yes there's a lot more expectation but that is a great thing, we can all definately feel the buzz in Wales again and everyone is looking forward to the Scotland game," he said. "I have learned that you can't beat players or create something out of nothing every time you get the ball. I hope people aren't expecting that.
"After the Rugby World Cup experience there's a belief in the squad that our heads will never go down if things go wrong and that's a feeling we will taken into the RBS Six Nations."
Wales Under 18 captain Callum Bradbury is delighted to have seen his side claim a narrow 18-17 victory against a strong SA Schools 'A' side to end the three-match Under 19 International Series in South Africa on a high note.
The Wales U18 squad spent an emotional day in the drug-riddled townnship of Hout Bay. Hout Bay Warriors President Fred Johannes said the visit was 'the talk of the town' and will dream about the day everyday for the rest of his life.
RGC 1404's new head coach Mark Jones is hoping to build 'something special' in north Wales and is already looking forward to the development region participating in the Principality Premiership for the very first time.
A joint venture between the WRU and Admiral saw hundreds of children enjoy the Admiral Festival of Rugby held at the National Centre of Excellence at the weekend where Welsh internationals Sam Warburton, Scott Williams and Rob Evans were in attendance.
Wll Jones leads Wales U18s into battle this afternoon against Italy where the Welsh side will be seeking to bounce back from their narrow defeat to SA Schools in their opening clash of the U19 International Series
All four regions attended a successful training camp staged last weekend at the WRU National Centre of Excellence. It was a chance for new Wales Women's head coach Rowland Phillips to deliver his key messages to players and coaches as he prepares for the new season.
Wales U18 Team Manager Gethin Watts believes the next couple of weeks will be 'extremely beneficial' to the future of Welsh rugby as his side prepare to take part in the Under 19 International Series being staged in South Africa.
The WRU is searching for 12 new rugby development apprentices following a successful first year of its WRU Coach Core programme. Craig Duncan and Jess Hancock have flourished in the first year of the programme which has given them a real direction in their lives.
The WRU signed TV comedian Rhod Gilbert up to a 'Coaching Children Level 1' course before letting him loose on an U8s side at Whitland Junior Borderers - we went behind the scenes to film the making of 'Rhod Gilbert's Work Experience' see the results here.
Llandovery are aiming to make it three titles in a row in this year's Foster's National 7s being held at BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park on Sunday 28 August. Drovers assistant coach Simon Davies and Lee Rees assess their sides chances
A pioneering strength and conditioning programme has been delivered to more than 8000 boys and girls at hub schools throughout Wales this season, helping to develop stronger, more flexible athletes for rugby and other sports.
The Singha Premiership Rugby 7s Series returns to the BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park on July 22nd when all four Welsh regions go head to head. Scarlets skills coach Dai Flanagan and Blues Elite Performance Pathway Manager Richard Hodges along with current Welsh squad members were at the launch of this season's event