South Wales Ironmen utility player Zak Williams will reach a significant club milestone when, barring injury, he will run out against Toronto Wolfpack on Saturday 10th June at The Wern in Merthyr Tydfil (kick-off 5pm).
The 20-year old from Monmouth will clock up 50 appearances for the club after making his first team debut a little over two years ago.
Williams is a club-built professional. One of just eight players to have risen from South Wales under 15s all the way up to the first team, his commitment to the cause over the years has been second to none.
He’s also had plenty of experience in facing Canadians in the past. When Wales won bronze in Rugby League in an exhibition event at the last Commonwealth Games, Williams was in the side that beat Canada in the third-place play-off, and he also travelled to the country last year as part of an Ironmen Development side that took on East Canada at Toronto Wolfpack’s Lamport Stadium.
Williams said: “Should I be selected, it will be an honour to make my 50th appearance for the club. I have no secrets, but I do leave everything on the field. If I come off knowing I have energy left then I’ve not worked hard enough and there is always room for improvement.
“My 50th game, being against Toronto, couldn’t be more apt as I’ve good memories of facing and beating Canada in the Commonwealth Championships in Glasgow for the bronze medal. We only lost to Papua New Guinea and Australia in that tournament, who finished first and second respectively.
“Having Toronto in the league makes it exciting because everyone wants to beat them, but the money they have at their disposal is leagues above us – they are a full-time outfit. But as I said I will do my job on that field and give it my all, I’m looking forward to playing against their superstars as it isn’t every day you play against players such as Fui Fui Moi Moi and Ryan Bailey, The challenge will be tough for us and we are expecting a big crowd for this game which will be good for us here at Merthyr.”
Williams believes that successful sides in places like Wales and Canada can only be good for the game and will encourage other nations to take up the sport professionally.
“Having a transatlantic league makes it exciting for all involved,” he said. “The game is getting harder and having these teams from across the pond just makes the challenge better.”
“We’ve seen the growth of the game in Jamaica recently – another side that Wales beat in Glasgow in 2014. It’s also growing in America and we’ve got a World Cup over there and Canada in 2025.
“It’s all exciting for the future, but for us, it’s about giving all we can against the Wolfpack on Saturday at The Wern.”
Tickets for South Wales Ironmen v Toronto Wolfpack are selling well, and can be bought in advance by going to www.ticketsource.co.uk/southwalesironmen
By Ian Golden, Wales Rugby League.