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Williams: I used to be 'petrified' of O'Connell


Paul O'Connell

Paul O'Connell

Paul O'Connell

Former Wales winger Shane Williams has revealed he was 'petrified' of Paul O'Connell before he found himself rooming with the Munster legend on the 2009 Lions Tour of South Africa.

The ex-Ospreys star has revealed that he was concerned that O'Connell may be reluctant to offer him the hand of friendship after they had exchanged what he described as 'banter' during Six Nations clashes between Ireland and Wales.

So he was more than a little concerned when Lions chiefs placed his name next to that of Tour captain O'Connell when the rooms were handed out.

"Paul O'Connell was an absolute monster and he always petrified me," Williams on the Changing Room Chat podcast.

"There he was, 9ft tall or whatever and I was terrified by him. The red hair on him added to it and whenever I came up against him on the field, I just thought he wanted to eat me.

"Sometimes on the field, you have some banter that may go too far at times and O'Connell was someone I had some of that banter with. I would make fun of opponents at times if I ran around then and Paul would not be the only person who would have wanted to get their hands on me.

"So I remember going on the 2009 Lions tour thinking the last person I want to share a room with would be Paul O'Connell. I thought he hated me, so when I was put with Paul I was thinking 'oh no!'.

"But you know, he was one of the nicest guys I've ever met. We are good mates to this day. We played a lot of golf together on that Lions trip and he is just a different fella off the field. A born winner who will do whatever it takes on the field and that is why he is a leader, but a gentleman off it.

"That's what a Lions tour is all about. You would get the chance to spend time with players you would never want to spend five seconds with, but it was very different off the field."