IT’S a long shot, but one even a former Wallaby is prepared to claim.
Jim Williams, a World Cup winner in 1999 and assistant coach for the Wallabies, helped train the Orange City Rugby Club before the Lions first grade side embarked on the biggest finals campaign it has played in close to 40 years.
The session had everything, including plenty of “claret”, as the Lions steeled themselves for finals footy.
Fittingly, Orange City went on to win the first grade title undefeated with a 30-16 triumph over a tough Dubbo Roos side on grand final day, at the same time claiming the second grade crown with a commanding win over the Bathurst Bulldogs too.
Lucky charm or not, Williams is claiming some of the glory.
“I certainly like to think so,” Williams laughed when quizzed on whether he had a hand in getting the Lions over the line.
“I’ve been pretty fortunate to have enjoyed plenty of success with the Brumbies and Wallabies and then overseas with Munster.
“I’ve heard a few stories after the session I ran last year there were a few broken noses and a bit of claret flying around.
“They’re a good bunch of guys and they enjoy their rugby.”
Williams was this week in the region to help promote the Learn Earn Legend program, helping encourage indigenous Australians to make the most of their time at school.
Part of program since April last year, Williams said he has made a conscious effort to give back to the community.
And it’s again led him back to Pride Park.
From the wallas through to first grade, mentors Mick Gray and Steve Hamson and nearly all of the coaching staff were on hand to listen to a former player and coach who began his love of rugby in the bush community of Young.
“It’s always great to have someone who has been part of that level of rugby come and lend a hand,” Gray said.
A barnstorming backrower in his prime through the late 90s, Williams found a niche as a forward coach with both Munster in Ireland and then the Wallabies under Robbie Deans in 2005.
As a coach, the 44-year-old likes to keep things simple.
He said getting the best out of players, week in and week out, was the key.
“That’s what it’s all about, especially from a coaching aspect,” he said.
“At a higher level you don’t really need to coach players how to play, it’s more about their mental preparation and getting them physically prepared well. Certainly I think that same mentality is important at every level of rugby.
“That’s my coaching philosophy anyway.”