Martyn Williams reckons Mike Ruddock is the man to complete the Welsh jigsaw by turning the Welsh pack into a winning hand. Former flanker Ruddock is regarded as Mr Fix-it when it comes to set-piece play after his time with Swansea, Ebbw Vale and Ireland. And he will need to get to work quick with scrum experts Argentina looming large on the horizon.
A wobbly lineout and creaking scrum meant Wales were forced to live off scraps during the Six Nations as the forwards felt the pinch. Yet the Williams boys - Shane and Rhys - made bread from the crumbs of possesion as Wales matched champions France try for try.
And British Lion Williams reckons Wales could be genuine title contenders if they can get their set-piece sorted. "We are all well aware that the set-piece needs some work and I really think Mike is the perfect man for the job," said flanker Williams.
"I've worked with him before and he's a very knowledgeable guy - especially about forward play. Being an ex-back-row player he knows that's where the game is won and lost. "He is really organised and his track record speaks for itself and his time as Ireland forwards coach will be a massive help to us.
"But the players know that while Mike will bring a lot of new ideas and organisation up front, ultimately it comes down to the players to sort things out. "We have to make the right calls at the right time and that comes down purely to experience. "If you look at the Irish pack who played so well in the Six Nations, they have been together as a unit for the last four years.
"Most of our guys are still young and still learning but it will come. "We showed at times how dangerous we can be off 30 or 40 per cent of the ball, so it's left us wondering what we could do with 50 or 60 per cent." Williams admitted he felt sorry for Ruddock over the the cloud that surrounded his shock appointment ahead of popular choice Gareth Jenkins.
But he reckons the feal-good factor in and around the Wales team will help Ruddock emerge from the "shadow" lurking behind him. "This is a great time to be involved with Wales with the feal-good factor among the players, the supporters and in the regions," said Williams.
"So it's a good time for Mike to take over, despite the circumstances. "I
really hope for his sake that people forget what happened and the controversy around the selection. It was a shock, the players were as surprised as anyone.
"But all of that will be forgotten with success and hopefully we can win our
first few games and help him make a name for himself." Meanwhile Williams insists he WILL be available for the summer tour despite concerns that he will have to undergo the surgery he put off to travel to New Zealand last year. He said: "There's so much excitement that no-one wants to miss anything - you just want to be involved."
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