Player Review 2012 - Sam Williams
Tuesday 13 November 2012 9:35 AM
After winning the club’s Rookie of the Year Award last year, Sam Williams progressed in leaps and bounds this year and confirmed his standing as one of the finest young halves in the game.
Williams made his debut last year after an injury to first choice half Matt Orford, along with the existing injury to Captain Terry Campese and Williams again made his debut in 2012 in similar fashion.
With Campese’s return from injury and Josh McCrone having cemented his position in the team, Williams was forced to start the year in the NSW Cup with Mounties.
Williams accepted this decision with a level of maturity beyond his years and knuckled down in reserve grade to work on the areas of his game that needed improvement.
In turn, the 21 year old set the competition alight in the early rounds of the NSW Cup and the young playmaker’s form and proven ability in the first grade arena, made David Furner’s decision an easy one following the loss of Campese in round seven.
Williams made his debut for the year in round eight against the Cronulla Sharks (the same side he made his first grade debut against) and kept his position for the remainder of the year.
The more that the Cooma Colts junior’s game improved, the more the team’s fortunes followed suite. Since his debut in 2011, Williams has always been able to guide the side around the park with poise and confidence however it was his growing ability to deliver the killer blow to the opposition that was one of the major developments in his game this year.
This was highlighted in the club’s annual grudge match against arch rivals the St George Illawarra Dragons in round 17.
The Raiders needed to win the match to stay in touch with their semifinal aspirations and it was Williams, along with Reece Robinson, who delivered the knockout blow to the Dragons.
Taking the ball to the line in the dying minutes of the match, Williams shaped to hit Joel Thompson with a short ball, holding the ball up long enough to attract multiple defenders before passing behind Thompson to send Robinson on a saloon passage to the try-line for what was the match-winning try.
That moment was also a pivotal moment in Williams’ development as a playmaker when you consider that only moments beforehand, in the exact same location on the field, Williams had ill-timed a pass to Thompson late and the second rower coughed the ball up as a result.
From that point on, Williams took his game to another level and was a major contributing factor to Canberra’s miraculous charge towards the semifinals.
The former Junior Kangaroo representative had now evolved from a player of immense promise to a pivotal member of the side’s fortunes and was in fact Man of the Match in Canberra’s brilliant 34-16 win over the Cronulla Sharks in the first semifinal.
Williams’ stellar performances at halfback throughout the year gained the talented youngster praise from the greatest halfback to have played the game, Andrew Johns.
Johns spoke glowingly of Williams’ already impressive maturity and toughness despite being in the very early stages of his promising career.
“Everyone gets dropped in their career, even the best ones. It's how you bounce back, and he's done that,” Johns said.
“I like him because he runs at the line, but the thing about him is when he does run, he runs straight.
“Not a lot of halfbacks do that anymore, and I thought he was probably Canberra's best player in the final.”
“He'll work on his body and get bigger. He's showed some ticker the last few weeks and there's some good signs there.”
Williams has been touted as a candidate as the Raiders long term number seven for a number of years now and his terrific season in 2012 has more than justified those prior claims.
With Terry Campese set to again return from injury in 2013, Coach David Furner now has a difficult selection decision on his hands after Williams’ brilliant season. Admittedly though, it is a decision that Furner is lucky to have.
Comment on Joel's season below
Line Breaks: 7
Line Break Assists: 2
Try Assists: 15
Tackle Breaks: 26
Average Metres: 39.1
Average Tackles: 16.9
Kick Metres: 121 kicks for 2887 metres