100 Club: The Tomos factor

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Tomos Williams became the latest player to join the Cardiff Blues 100 Club last Friday night as he took the field against London Irish, and is one of the most gifted players to join the club, especially from the homegrown ranks.

It seems like a lifetime ago that Tomos was making his breakthrough into the first team at the Arms Park, properly stepping up during the 2016/17 campaign having caught the eye the previous year and not looking back on a prestigious rise to the top of the pecking order of Welsh scrum-halves.

Looking back at Williams’ first try for Cardiff Blues, almost five years ago now in September 2016 against Edinburgh, it’s typical Tomos play with his head up at the base of a ruck and backing his explosive pace to take him over the line.

That natural attacking flair has always been what has stood him out from the crowd even as a raw 20-year-old. His confidence has never been in doubt and that translates to an almost unbelievable speed of play at times, creating these sorts of defensive holes around the fringes as opposition teams struggle to get organised.

Williams has also had that natural feel for the game in an attacking sense in him since he burst on to the scene, running in two very similar tries away at Leinster in March 2017 as he tracks play on the inside shoulder and is in an ideal position to finish the move.

Where Williams has improved since that breakthrough season is how he influences the game beyond the confines of traditional scrum-half play though, linking attacks and working in the back field to help turn defence into attack.

When you think of the top 9s in the world the two names that come to mind currently are Antoine Dupont and Faf de Klerk, with both having that high level of basic skills when it comes to speed and quality of pass, but having a ridiculously long highlight reel of x factor moments that get the team moving forward away from a ruck.

Tomos is fast developing a similar highlight reel as he produces attacking opportunities out of nowhere right across the field.

You can spot the former international basketballer in Tomos Williams as his handling skills are something else. The flicks back inside and offloads out the back door are impressive, but if the offload in the final clip was performed in Super Rugby it would be appearing on every rugby clips page on Instagram for years.

Instead though we get to witness the brilliance at the Arms Park and, at times, it feels like we have kept the 26-year-old a somewhat veiled secret.

Of course I should say that Williams has some way to go before he makes it right to the top in his position, as his game management, although much better than it was when he first arrived on the scene, is still not good enough for him to nail down the Wales 9 jersey let alone be spoken about alongside de Klerk, Dupont and Aaron Smith.

His attacking brilliance is worth the entrance fee to most games on it’s own though, a once-in-a-generation player we are lucky to see pulling on the Cardiff jersey whenever he can, summed up superbly by still one of the most astounding tries I’ve ever seen live, his score in Bilbao.

I don’t know whether he means to play the ball off the piece or if it is purely reactionary, but whichever it is the try is still a stunning piece of skill and well worthy of getting the comeback of all comebacks underway in the second half against Gloucester.

Here’s hoping for many more moments like this as Tomos Williams takes his place in the 100 Club.

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