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20 Questions: Jeff Williams – bath wing

Enjoying pre-season?

As much as you can enjoy pre-season I guess! I’ve started earlier than most of the squad along with the other injured players. We’re spending a lot of time in the gym.

How’s your knee getting on?

Well it’s four months since I ruptured my ACL and I’m hoping to be able to run again in a month or so. If it all goes to plan I’ll be back playing late September. Let’s just say it’s an extended pre-season.

How do you cope with injuries?

I’m quite strong mentally so I just put it away and focus on the positive. It sounds cheesy but I really believe this time off is a great opportunity to become a better player.

Was it hard to switch from Sevens?

I get to train with very good players and I’m learning so much from the likes of Anthony Watson and Semesa Rokoduguni. Iron sharpens iron and without even realising, you get better just by training alongside them.

Personal targets for next season?

I’ve really enjoyed my two seasons at the club but you always want more as player and I want to start more games and get better in general.

Areas to improve?

The back-field coverage and the tactical game because it’s completely different to Sevens. I like to run the ball back and try to beat defenders but I’ve learnt to kick more.

When did you leave South Africa?

In 2011 when I was 23 to play for Chateaurenard in the French Federale 1. It was a great experience for me to discover a new environment. It’s a very old school community club full of passionate people.

What were you doing before that?

I was working in customer service in Cape Town and playing for an amateur club called Hamilton – the oldest club in South Africa. The president of Hamilton and the manager of Chateaurenard were business partners and that’s how it all happened.

England Sevens after that?

Ben Ryan spotted me while I was playing in France and I ended up playing four seasons on the World Series.

What did you take from your time on the World Series?

It was the best thing I could have done for my rugby career and development. My skills improved so much but aside from that I got to meet some great people and visit wonderful places.

How did the move Bath come about?

I always dreamt about playing professional rugby in 15s and Mike Ford was looking to bolster his wing options. It was tough to step away from the Olympics but I just couldn’t turn down the opportunity to join such a great club.

How will you look back at your journey?

I’ve struggled to get where I am but I’m a battler and I’ll do whatever it takes to get where I want to be. It’d be cool to end the journey playing in France again.

What’s the mood in camp?

Very positive and very optimistic about where we want to go. We don’t want to expect things to happen. The coaches have settled in and we’re working hard to make sure we achieve what we want.

So fifth place in the end, having needed Leicester to lose on the final weekend to reach the playoffs… how do you reflect on the season as a whole?

There were some tough conversations after losing the Challenge Cup semi-final and I think we learned from it. In the league, we don’t want to be in a situation again where we need a favour from someone else to achieve our goal.

Targets for this season?

Given the squad we have, making the Premiership semi-finals has to be the main target. We want to be as competitive and create a real identity to our team.

If not rugby, what would you be doing?

I actually liked my job back in South Africa so that’s something I would have carried on doing.

Favourite cheat meal?

I enjoy a trip to Dough Pizza Restaurant in Bath with Michael van Vuuren. We fast all week and then head there on a Friday night usually.

Three dinner guests?

Ricky Gervais, clothing designer Paul Smith and Liam Gallagher.

Best and worst banter at Bath?

Michael is definitely the worst when it comes to banter but Matt Garvey is pretty funny.

Best and worst dressed?

Garvs is funny, but doesn’t dress well with dads’ shirts and Uggs! Anthony Watson would pick up best dressed.

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