Liam Williams Williams typifies Wales’ progress from challengers to contenders

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No player epitomises how this Wales team has been transformed over the last four years more than full-back Liam Williams,writes Paul Eddison.

While Warren Gatland’s side made the quarter-finals in 2015, and came within five minutes of a second successive semi-final before falling to South Africa, they were never truly contenders to win the competition.

Injuries had crippled them almost before the tournament began, and the gap to eventual champions New Zealand, in particular, was too wide to bridge.

Fast-forward four years and they look every bit like potential finalists, particularly following a thrilling win over Australia in Tokyo.

In the last year alone Wales have gone on a record win streak, won a third Grand Slam under Gatland and even briefly reached the top of the world rankings.

At the last World Cup Williams was still establishing himself in the Welsh side, still clearly number two behind Leigh Halfpenny at full-back, but versatile enough to fill in on the wing.

When Halfpenny went down on the eve of the tournament, Williams stepped up, but his own tournament was cut short by injury in the final pool game against Australia.

On that occasion Wales threw everything they could at the Wallabies but could not find a way through. On Sunday Australia were the team on the offensive, Wales doing enough to hold them off.

The final blow was struck by Williams. With his team 29-25 to the good and with barely a minute to go, Australia had worked their way into the 22 and were looking to go over for a fourth, match-winning try.

It was then t

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