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Wales call up uncapped Williams ahead of World Cup quarter-final

Wales call up uncapped Williams ahead of World Cup quarter-final

Wales have called up uncapped back-row Kate Williams as a replacement for the injured Alisha Butchers ahead of their Rugby World Cup quarter-final with New Zealand on Saturday.

Swansea-born Williams trained with Wales in July and will come up against her country of residence having moved to New Zealand with her family aged four.

Butchers was ruled out of the rest of the World Cup with a significant knee injury sustained in Wales’ opening-round win over Scotland. 

Ioan Cunningham’s side reached the last eight despite defeats to Saturday’s opponents and Australia in Pool A as they qualified as one of the best third-placed teams. 

“I’m super honoured and excited to be training with Wales,” the warfare officer in the New Zealand Navy said. 

“My whole family is Welsh and I’ve always felt a strong connection to Wales despite growing up here. We’ve always supported Wales as a family, my parents have made sure my brother and I feel a part of Wales. 

“I got a great opportunity to train with Wales in July through a grapevine situation so I took my chance and booked my tickets. It was probably the best thing I’ve done. I thoroughly enjoyed that experience and means I already know most of the girls a little bit. 

“It’s obviously a different vibe now that we’re in the middle of the World Cup compared to pre-season but that’s what you’d expect, everyone is very switched on. 

“Training with Wales in July made me focus on my rugby future, it’s what I want to do. I’ve arranged to take a year’s unpaid leave from January so I want to have a real go at playing rugby semi-professionally or professionally in the UK and see where that takes me.” 

Williams previously captained North Harbour Hibiscus in the Farah Palmer Cup before representing the New Zealand Defence team in the recent Defence Rugby World Cup. 

New Zealand lost 9-8 to France in the final, while Wales international Bethan Dainton helped the United Kingdom to win the Plate Final against Tonga. 

Ahead of Saturday’s match, which kicks off at 7:30am BST, Cunningham said, “Kate has been on our radar for a while. She’s Welsh, born in Swansea and has played a high level of rugby in New Zealand.  

“We are delighted to have her in our squad and excited to see what she can do in the future. 

“When she trained with us in July, I made her aware that she could be involved if anything happened while we were over here and I’m pleased with the way she’s got stuck into training and settled into our environment.”