Warren Gatland has sent a chilling warning to Wales' Six Nations opponents after declaring: I'll turn Shane Williams into an even better player.
The IRB World Player of the Year lit up Gatland's debut season on the way to a historic Grand Slam. Williams scored six sensational tries but the Wales coach reckons the pint-sized wing has the potential to also become a great foil for others.
Gatland said: "We're all challenging each other to get better and Shane will become more of a creator than just a finisher for us. He's such a great runner and he showed that for his opening try against Australia in the Autumn series.
"He appeared in the centre of the field and produced that step and off-load for Lee Byrne to make the break through.
"We've got so many special talents that can make a difference like Shane, Lee, James Hook, Mike Phillips and Gavin Henson. They're all excellent ball carriers and can change a game in an instant for us - that's what really excited me when I took over."
Gatland enters the dreaded second season in charge with the big Six Nations kick-off against Scotland just a few days away.
But the Kiwi has backed his star asset to fire Wales to Sunday success at Murrayfield. Gatland said: "Shane's a fantastic player and absolutely vital for us.
"He had a huge 2008 by winning the Six Nations, breaking the all-time Welsh try-scoring record and becoming the world's best player - all in his testimonial year.
"We were conscious of that and gave him all the support he needs. He's an experienced player and at times we've given him some leeway with training because we need to make sure his performances on the field are right.
"He didn't play as well as he can in a couple of the Autumn matches.
"I believe he was aware of the standards he had set and other teams were targeting him - he was trying too hard and needs to find a balance.
"Most teams are marking him extremely closely and are now putting two men on him to try and stop him."
That space may come to Wales' advantage elsewhere in the back-line with Test rookie Leigh Halfpenny likely to make his Championship bow at the expense of Mark Jones.
Halfpenny scored three tries in as many Tests in November and Gatland expects the Cardiff Blues rising star to pose defences' problems in the Six Nations.
Gatland said: "We were delighted with Leigh's performances and he will get his opportunity.
"He's a promising and talented, young player who can play wing or full back and has the added advantage of kicking goals.
"But we said to him post-Autumn that he needs to try and get his hands on the ball more.
"He's got the speed and for a small lad, he's really strong and powerful going forward in contact but if he looks at the way Shane plays the game, he gets lot of touches and goes looking for the ball.
"We've asked Leigh to improve but we want him to enjoy the game and relax. He's one player that other teams in the Six Nations won't know much about and maybe won't have done their homework on."
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