A GRUELLING off-season training with Cronulla Sharks SG Ball squad was pivotal to Lachlan Williams' selection in the NSW Country under 18 rugby league team to tour England in November.
"I had a massive pre-season and was the fittest I've ever been,'' Williams explained.
However, his ambitions to play with the Sharks were thwarted.
"There were a couple of difficulties,'' he said.
So Williams headed home and gained a place as a centre in the North Coast side to play in the Country Rugby League's Laurie Daley Cup. The Bulldogs were unluckily beaten inside the final minute of the semi-final by eventual champions Illawarra-South Coast. North Coast went in the semi-final unbeaten with three wins and two draws from the preliminary matches. Illawarra won the final against Western Rams at Mudgee comfortably.
Williams said losing the semi was 'really disappointing,' however, he had reason to smile when he was named in the touring party.
He is the Manning River Times-Iguana Sportstar of the Week,earning a $50 open order at Iguana.
Williams was happy with his efforts for North Coast, believing the extra work he'd done in the pre-season gave him an edge. He thought he was a reasonable chance of making the Country side, even though North Coast missed out on a final berth.
"But you never know with these things,'' he said.
The squad will be away for two weeks and will play three games.
This will be the second time he's represented Country, having gone to New Zealand with an under 16 side two years ago.
Williams, a Brisbane Broncos supporter, still has a burning ambition to play in the NRL and admits that he was bitterly disappointed when his chance to play SG Ball didn't eventuate.
He doesn't know if the Sharks have any further plans for him.
He hopes the tour with the Country side could open up further avenues to the NRL. But if not he's also happy to be pro active.
"I'll try and get a trial at the end of the season or maybe play with one of the feeder clubs,'' he explained.
Williams played for grand finalists Old Bar in last season's Group Three under 18s. However, he's moved to the Wingham Tigers this year. He alternated between the Tigers and Taree Red Rovers in his junior footy days,
"I just think Wingham's the best club club around here,'' he said.
Williams will make his first grade debut for the Tigers on Sunday for the clash against Wauchope at Wauchope. Wingham will be keen to atone for a disappointing effort in the opening round when beaten by Forster-Tuncurry. Williams will play on the wing, away from his preferred roles at centre or fullback, but isn't fazed by the switch in position.