Wales captain Siwan Lillicrap has paid tribute to her late grandfather and ‘biggest fan’ who passed away ahead of her side’s last-gasp Rugby World Cup win against Scotland.
Keira Bevan’s 84th-minute penalty ensured Wales got off to a dramatic winning start down under with an 18-15 victory over their TikTok Women’s Six Nations rivals.
Victory at the Semenoff Stadium provided a ray of light at the end of a difficult week for Lillicrap, who helped the side advance into the Scottish half before replacement scrum-half Bevan sparked pandemonium.
“It was probably one of the toughest weeks I have had to face in my life,” said Lillicrap.
“My grandfather was my biggest supporter and my best friend too. But he would have wanted me to play.
“As my mum said, he had the best view in the house on Sunday, watching over us. And I am sure he would have been willing that kick to go over in the end.
🏴 "𝙂𝙞𝙧𝙡𝙨 𝙛𝙧𝙤𝙢 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙡𝙪𝙨𝙝 𝙜𝙧𝙚𝙚𝙣 𝙜𝙧𝙖𝙨𝙨 𝙤𝙛 𝙝𝙤𝙢𝙚" 🏴
— Welsh Rugby Union 🏴 (@WelshRugbyUnion) October 7, 2022
“Everyone has been fantastic out here and hopefully we did him proud. I’ve got all my family back home supporting us and my mum is out here. That makes it so special.”
Victory gives Wales a great chance of progression to the knockout stages, with one more win likely to be enough given the best two third-placed teams qualify for the quarter-finals.
But Lillicrap insists the squad are not losing focus ahead of a sell-out clash with hosts New Zealand at the Waitakere Stadium in Auckland.
“There can be no better game than facing home opposition on their turf,” said the back-row star.
“It has been fantastic so far out here in New Zealand and now we get to face the Black Ferns.
“It’s just brilliant. It will be like a cup final.
“The more we can take out of these games, the better position we will be in to challenge for a place in the quarter-finals. And ultimately that is our aim.”
The duel between the two TikTok Women’s Six Nations sides may have kicked off at 5.45am back in Wales but Lillicrap says the squad could feel the support of those watching on from home.
And the 35-year-old hopes that in the future, the team can give their supporters an easier ride.
Honouring those in attendance, Lillicrap said: “I thought our fans were fantastic.
“They outdid the Scottish fans and that was great for us. They got behind us and we are so grateful to all of them.
“I know everyone is tuning in back home too and to come off the field and see all those messages from home was really nice for us.
“We just ask that people keep getting behind us because it means a lot to us out here in New Zealand.
“It was certainly one of those games where your heart was in your mouth for long periods.
“Moving forward, hopefully we don’t leave it that long and we can win games a bit earlier.
“That would be better for all the supporters watching too, because it was very tense.”