GIANT Sea Eagle Tony Williams is confident a strong off-season free of injury will see him return to his devastating best in 2010 and prove to the doubters he can cut it in the NRL.
Tony Williams ... I want to get that explosiveness back in my game this year. Picture: SIMON DEAN
In a great sign for the 2008 premiers, Williams has been training strongly all summer and looks in top shape ahead of the new season.
It’s a total opposite to this time last year when the former Eel was spending most of his time in rehab after tearing his hamstring early in the new year.
The injury proved a major setback for the 21-year-old who, by his own admission, was well below his best form throughout last season.
Williams managed just 12 first grade appearances before finishing the year with Manly’s feeder club, the Sunshine Coast Eagles.
But now enjoying a pre-season free of any disruptions, Williams is desperate to return to form that saw him burst on to the NRL scene with Parramatta midway through 2008.
“That’s a really important thing for me, to get back to the way things were when I started,” Williams said on Thursday.
“I want to get that explosiveness back in my game, that’s a big thing for me.
“Last year was disappointing ... the injury put me on the back foot straight away.
“There’s always obstacles you have to get over and then get back on track.
“But I want to prove to people what I can really do. Show last year was just a bad one and get back to what I know I can do.
“I think I’m in for a really big season,” he said.
As do the coaching staff at Manly.
“You’ll definitely see a bigger, stronger and faster Tony Williams this year,” Sea Eagles recruitment manager Noel Cleal said.
“He’s had a much better off season this year and he looks really good,” Cleal said.
“His body shape’s changed dramatically, he’s slimmer and fitter.
“The interesting part is where we’re going to play him because he can cover a number of positions.”
Williams has spent most of the pre-season training in the centres but could also be used in the backrow or off the bench by coach Des Hasler.
He said his stint in the Queensland Cup in 2009, where he helped the Eagles to the premiership, was just what he needed.
“When you get dropped it makes you hungrier,” Williams said.
“I have no regrets about playing there but I don’t want to play second grade for the rest of my career.”