Sharks X-Factor: Reece Williams

The fantastic four of the Sharks make up one of the most hyped back rows in the NRL today. Paul Gallen, Anthony Tupou and Reni Maitua have all played at the highest level, but it’s the youngest member of the four, local product Reece Williams, who could be the man to star for the Sharks in 2009.<br><br>Williams is reluctant to talk himself up in relation to his more illustrious teammates but is just happy to be back playing as part of a very solid pack after a disastrous 2008.<br><br>“It’s good to be playing with those guys but at the same time you have four very good players pushing for back row spots, so the competition for a starting spot is strong.”<br><br>A workhorse by nature, but one blessed with pace, Williams is one of the fastest forwards at Cronulla. He was destined for big things after a representative debut for City in 2007 and then looked like he could take the next step in 2008. But then a knee injury ended his season in round 2 and he was forced to watch his mates go within one game of the Grand Final without him.<br><br>“It’s been about 11 months now since I had the operation and last week against the Dragons was the first week I didn’t really think about it when I was running or anything.<br><br>“It feels good, I’ve definitely got my confidence back and I’ve been getting my pace back too.”<br><br>Williams is now back and firing for the Sharks and could be the extra man they need to go one better than last season. <br><br>If you look back to 2007 Williams was a dynamo, scoring four tries and the fourth most likely player to make an offload for Cronulla (with 26 – just over 1 per game) allowing the second phase play the Sharks so badly need.<br><br>This year he has come back hard, running for 292 metres in the first three rounds, second only to club captain and tyro Paul Gallen. But if you look at the quality of the Williams carry he has it all over his captain making an average charge of 9.4 metres, while the NSW and Australian front rower makes just 6.5 metres per carry.<br><br>Williams is also leading the Sharks in one-on-one tackles made with nine, whilst he sits fourth in hit ups and tackles made respectively. All good pointers to Cronulla’s improvement and Williams’ chance to nab a rep jersey, but he insists he is solely focused on his club football.<br><br>“At the start of this year I haven’t really thought of rep jerseys but am just trying to play well for the club and get some wins, start the season well. We haven’t done that and we don’t want to be one of those teams who is trying to catch up or wins one then loses one.”<br><br>With his confidence has come the realisation the Sharks need to step up after an indifferent start to the season and the old rumours about their lack of attacking potency are circling once again.<br><br>At this stage Cronulla are the worst attacking team in the NRL with just 36 points. Last year they were second worst, scoring just 451 points, which only beat wooden spooners, the Bulldogs. <br><br>“Our attack has been something we have been working on. Our defence has been going really well but when we get to attack we have been working so hard in our defence that we’re a little bit tired. I suppose, that’s got to change.<br><br>“It’s been great having Trent Barrett here, he’s one of the best, but the change from Brett Kimmorley has been hard and with the injuries to Brett Kearney and Brett Seymour being out it has been hard to get our combinations right in attack, especially the last two weeks.”<br><br>Perhaps the addition of noted speedster Bronx Goodwin to the roster can help. Williams believes it may.<br><br>“I’m stoked that Bronx is coming to the club, he can bring some more speed to the backline.”<br><br>If he does and Williams recaptures his ability to run the ball hard and score some tries then the Sharks will be well on their way to once again being a threat.<br><br>