Bath Rugby’s high-powered starting back-line is a tough nut to crack but Jeff Williams is confident he can put down a marker in his side’s first competitive West Country derby against Bristol Rugby in seven years.
The former England Sevens player took a while to get a look-in at the Rec but made an impression before last season was out with four Aviva Premiership Rugby tries in five games – including a double against Northampton Saints.
Given Bath’s superb start to the season, it’s no surprise that playing time has been harder to come by under Todd Blackadder – which is why Williams is so desperate to seize any opportunity he gets.
He has been handed a starting berth on the wing in the European Rugby Challenge Cup, against west country rivals Bristol no less, as Bath aim to make it two wins out of two in the competition.
And though admittedly the quality of competition among Bath backs is a double-edged sword – the 28-year-old now wants to put what he has learned into practice.
“Every day I want to learn something and get better and when you are around quality players like the (Semesa) Rokodugunis of the world, Jonathan Joseph, Anthony Watson, these guys really help with everything,” he said. “I’m positive I’ve got a lot better from when I first started at Bath and I think I can really be effective whenever I get the opportunity.
“It’s simple – when you get your chances you either take them or you don’t. You’ve got to show what you are about and I truly believe that no matter what team we put out at Bath, we have individuals that come in and do a great job.
“We’ve used 36 players already this season and done really well so whether you’re 18 or 27, everyone who comes in knows what their roles are. Everyone in the rotation has the same hunger.”
While all is rosy at Bath, newly-promoted Bristol are still searching for their first win of the season as they look to adjust to Aviva Premiership Rugby.
But Williams insists his side will be taking no prisoners, with the two sides due to lock horns again seven years after the rivalry was put on ice.
“We want to get stuck into them and we know they are looking for their first win,” he added. “But we are not that worried about what they are looking to do, it’s another opportunity at home and we are going to put out a side who want to do so well for the crowd.
“The new coaching staff here have been great, bringing a southern hemisphere influence to the training – confidence breeds confidence and it’s a brilliant place to be.”