Lions Star Liam Williams Joins Saracens

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AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - JULY 08: Liam Williams of the Lions is tackled by Beauden Barrett (R) and Malakai Fekitoa during the Test match between the New Zealand All Blacks and the British & Irish Lions at Eden Park on July 8, 2017 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

The Scarlets full back will be joining five other teammates who toured New Zealand for the start of the 2017/2018 season hopping over the Welsh/English border as Lions star Liam Williams Joins Saracens.  Whilst he is leaving the current Pro12 champions, Williams is Saracens’ marquee signing for the upcoming season. Yet despite his role at full back on the Lions tour, question marks remain over where he will fit into the Saracens starting fifteen.

Williams has always been very clear that his preferred position is full back but he will face stiff competition for the number 15 jersey from Saracens club legend Alex Goode. Goode has been an integral part of a Saracens setup that has dominated the English and European scene in recent years and given Goode’s consistency in the position there is a possibility that Williams will be shifted out to the wing to replace the outgoing Chris Ashton.

Ashton Says ‘Au Revoir’ To Saracens

Ashton has left Saracens to take on the challenge of competing in the Top 14 as he joins the French giants Toulon. Ashton enjoyed an incredible successful spell at Saracens, and all too often was their get-out player, popping up with crucial scores in tight matches. His competitive spirit often made the difference and it’s no surprise that he left the current top team in Europe as the Champions Cup all time leading try scorer.

Despite his great form at club level – scoring 75 tries in 105 appearances – Ashton struggled to hold down a place in the England squad under Eddie Jones and this undoubtedly helped him make the decision to move to southern France. Ashton’s transfer echoes that of  former Saracens wing David Strettle, who similarly moved on to pastures new as he was unable to rekindle his international career. Both players have won everything they can in England and the opportunity to test themselves (and receive top pay) in France was too tempting to resist.

Williams On The Wing?

Ashton’s departure leaves a gargantuan hole on the wing which will be extremely difficult to fill. The need to hit the ground running at the start of the season may tempt Mark McCall to shift Williams to the wing at the start of his Saracens career. The idea that the Lions starting Full-Back may not be good enough for his club may seem ludicrous, but there were times in all three tests when Williams looked shaky under the high ball and awkward defensively.

His counterattacking skills and THAT try are plain to see, but he made several defensive errors that would have made McCall more than frown had he been watching in the stands. Throw in Alex Goode’s consistent form and it’s not too ludicrous an idea to suggest the Lions full back could be played out of position at his new club.

Time will tell as the new Aviva Premiership season approaches.

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