'We can win it' - Williams says Wales in good shape to lift first World Cup

Beppu (Japan) (AFP) –


Liam Williams believes Wales's recent history means they can win the World Cup for the first time.

Wales have yet to enjoy a better finish at the global showpiece than the third place they managed at the inaugural 1987 edition in Australia and New Zealand.

But Williams is convinced they can go all the way at Japan 2019.

Wales, who won this season's Six Nations with a Grand Slam, face familiar foes France in a quarter-final in Oita on Sunday.

They have beaten Les Bleus seven times in eight matches since a dramatic 2011 World Cup semi-final loss when Wales captain Sam Warburton, since retired, was sent off.

That run includes a remarkable win in the opening round of the Six Nations in February when they came from 16-0 behind at half-time to beat France 24-19 in Paris.

Another victory over the French would see Wales into a semi-final with in-form hosts Japan or South Africa.

"I think we can go on and win it," said Wales fullback Williams.

"Over the past 18 months, we've won the Six Nations and we've been away on a couple of these camps and it has all brought us in to one huge team.

"I think that has been great for Wales and hopefully it is going to put us in really good stead."

Victory in a World Cup final would top what has already been a hugely successful 2019 for Williams.

- 'We need to start hard' -

As well as helping Wales to Grand Slam glory, the Saracens star also featured in the North London club's march to the European Champions Cup and English Premiership titles.

But while France, one half in a key win over Argentina, have rarely hit the heights at this World Cup, a wary Williams insisted: "I think France have been playing really well.

"They have got some old heads in their team and they have a lot of experience as well.

"We've started a couple of our games quite well. Obviously against Australia we started really well in the first half but we dropped off (in a 29-25 win). We need to start hard and keep that up for the whole game."

Wales and Japan are the only two teams at this World Cup to have achieved a perfect played four, won four record in the pool phase, with fellow quarter-finalists England, France and New Zealand's concluding group matches cancelled because of Typhoon Hagibis.

Japan have been earning most of the plaudits for their fast-paced and accurate passing game that has seen them to wins over two established nations in Ireland and Scotland.

"We know it has been quite hot out here and sweaty, so the passing was unbelievable," said Williams of Japan's dramatic 28-21 victory over the Scots in Yokohama on Sunday.

"Scotland didn't really have any answers."