Fit-again Tony Williams insists he can rediscover the form that earned him representative honours with Parramatta.
Williams will play his first game in Eels’ colours in just under a decade against the Wests Tigers on Monday, a week after returning through reserve grade for the club.
Since leaving the Eels for Manly at the end of 2008, Williams has played three State of Origins for NSW and five Tests for Australia in addition to winning a NRL premiership in 2011.
However his career has flatlined in recent years after injury-hit stints with Canterbury and Cronulla.
Williams has spent 17 months on the sidelines over the past three years after recovering from knee and pectoral injuries, in addition to two ankle surgeries.
Never was his bad run of luck more evident than when after being stuck in reserve grade at Cronulla last year, the powerful forward worked his way back into the Sharks’ side.
However, a week later he tore his anterior cruciate ligaments the following week while playing for Tonga.
But Williams is confident that his luck is about to change with the Eels, who are still looking for their first win of the season, and he can recapture his best form.
“100 per cent. I’ve just got to get fit and stay injury free and everything will take care of itself,” he told AAP.
“Football is the easy bit for me, it’s just the other stuff.
“When everything was going so well I never thought I would ever do any upper body injuries. But things can happen to anyone – it doesn’t matter how strong you are.
“I’ve just got to stay consistent and stay hungry. There’s a lot I can improve in my game if I can just get that hunger back and do what I do best – run hard and tackle hard. The rest will take care of itself.”
Williams now hopes his injuries and his limited run of just 31 NRL games in the past three years can be a blessing in disguise.
The winger-turned-second-rower would have been close to fit for round one, if not for a club-imposed suspension for a drink-driving charge.
But he believes it’s all left his body feeling better than ever as he attempts to get back to the kind of form that saw him average six tackle busts and 120 metres a game while playing in the forwards at Manly in 2012.
“If anything the body will come back stronger because of all the time off,” Williams said.
“The week in, week out of smashing each other on the field takes it toll. I know I’m coming back from rehab but to be honest I feel fresh.
“The body hasn’t copped the same amount of bruising the guys who have played every single game for three years have.”
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