Canberra Raiders halfback Sam Williams says pulling on the jersey of his hometown club will never get old as he prepares for his third stint.
Having travelled the globe to follow his rugby league dream, Williams has again landed in the nation’s capital following a stint in the Super League with English club Wakefield Trinity last season.
Williams made his Telstra Premiership debut with Canberra in 2011 before spending 2014 at the St George Illawarra Dragons and Catalans. He was back at the Raiders from 2015-16.
The 26-year-old played an integral role to help Wakefield into the Super 8 stage. Williams told NRL.com he’s grown as a footballer and as a person after his latest stint overseas.
“There’s a lot of little things I took out of it,” he said.
“You’re out of your comfort zone over there, you’re in a different part of the world with different living conditions, you don’t have your family and friends and that support base as well.
“So, it can be challenging at times so to go over there and get through and now be back home where I’m pretty comfortable I just want to take the small things out of it and hopefully they can improve me this year.”
Williams said he now had the confidence to back himself mid-game and to have the skill to help bring home a win.
The Cooma junior will be trying to unseat the established halves pairing Blake Austin and Aidan Sezer.
Williams said the culture of healthy competition for first-grade spots has not changed since he was last at the club two seasons ago.
“We’ve always had a really healthy competition for spots, we’re all mates and we get along really well and we push ourselves on the training paddock,” he said.
“The shape Aidan and Blake look to be in, they look like they’re in for a big season. I just enjoy being out there and being in that competitive nature which I think most footballers have. We’re good mates but us pushing each other helps the team.”
Coach Ricky Stuart is keeping his cards close to his chest as to the make-up for his likely one round team.
However, Williams was given 65 minutes to make his case in the Raiders only pre-season trial, their 16-12 loss to the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs last Saturday at Sunshine Coast Stadium.
“I was just grateful to be back out there wearing the green jersey again, I know it was just a trial but it meant a lot to me to be back at the club and wearing it again,” he said.
“I was lucky to get a few minutes on the weekend, Ricky gave everybody an opportunity to play a bit of footy.
“We’ve given him a few selection headaches and I don’t know where his mind is at and what he is thinking.”
Aiding his new-found stability in his hectic career, having moved clubs six times in the past seven years, Williams will call GIO Stadium home until the end of 2019.
When asked if he would like to end his career with his beloved Raiders, he said: “In an ideal world we’re really successful here the next two years and I extend and stay longer.
“But professional sport is a funny game, you can’t predict what’s going to happen next week, much less two years away.”