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Magners League is Blues’ ‘first aim’

Guinness PRO12 Editor

17 Aug 2010

Cardiff Blues hooker Gareth Williams says winning the Magners League is his side’s top priority this season.

The Blues narrowly missed out on a Play-Off place last time out, beating Munster 13-12 on the final day of the season but failing to gain the bonus-point win they needed to secure a top-four spot.

Dai Young’s men put that disappointment behind them, however, as they went on to become the first Welsh side to lift a European trophy when they beat big-spending French outfit Toulon in the final of the Amlin Challenge Cup. 

And having finished the campaign with eight straight wins in all competitions, Williams is now keen that the Blues finally claim a Celtic League crown that has so far eluded them in nine seasons of trying.

"We want to win the Magners League this season, that's our first aim,” said Williams, who has made 50 Magners League starts and a further 28 appearances from the bench.

"We came second in the Magners a couple of times a few seasons ago and slipped off it a bit last year, so it's one thing we definitely want to win.

"As for Europe, I don't think there are any easy groups in the Heineken Cup and it really is a case of one game at a time.

“The Heineken Cup is the other trophy we haven't won, so throughout the squad that is something we all want to target."

Williams is currently recovering from two separate operations, meaning he won’t be available for the first few weeks of the season.

The 30-year-old required surgery on neck and shoulder problems during the summer, having played through the pain barrier to be a part of the Blues’ European heroics.

He hopes to be back in action in October but admits that competition for places at the Blues means he will have to find his feet quickly if he is to claim the No 2 shirt from fellow Welsh cap Rhys Thomas.

"It was good to have the operations in the summer as I won't miss too much of the season,” Williams told the South Wales Echo.

"I wanted to carry on playing as the team was doing so well and we had a great season, lifting the Amlin Cup.

"After the final, I had to go in for two operations. I had the neck surgery first and 15 days later I had the shoulder repaired. The physio is going well and I hope to be back in October.

"I've always had a good competition with Rhys Thomas at hooker over the last seven seasons and I think it really brings the best out of the both of us.

"We've also got a couple of good youngsters coming through, who obviously want to play, so it's going to be tough getting back, but I just want to be back on the pitch."