Turning back the clock for Rabbitoh Joe
By BRAD GREENSHIELDS
SOUTH Sydney halfback Joe Williams is becoming a permanent fixture in Coffs Harbour at this time of year.
Once again the Rabbitoh is in town for the National Under-18 Touch Titles.
It seems a long time ago that Williams was like one of the over 500 footballers playing at the Stadium this week vying for a national title and a place in the Australian team.
Williams played at the titles for two years, once with the Southern Suns and again with the NSW CCC team.
"When I was with the Suns, we were beaten in the final by Queensland in a drop-off," the 23 year-old said.
"It was a heartbreaker. We were down 4-0 and then we came back to 4-all and then we went down."
It is because of that experience and the success that he has enjoyed since then that Williams is asked to return to the titles each year.
"They always ask me to come back I think mainly because I've experienced what these sort of kids go through at this level," he said.
"It also proves that you can go on to the next level if you've got the talent, the motivation and the dedication as well."
The emerging halfback was sporting a cast on his left arm yesterday, courtesy of a recent thumb reconstruction.
The cast will remain on for another eight weeks and Williams isn't allowed to run for another three.
Once he can start doing fitness work again, Williams can't wait to get stuck in to preparations for next season.
"A lot of times, some players are just happy for the year to be over but there's a real positive vibe going around at the club," he said.
"Everyone can't wait to get into the next season and we're looking forward to it. Not a lot of the boys have been away because they've still been training, it's just a real positive vibe at the moment to really kick off the 2007 season.
"I think that's coming from everything. The appointment of Jason Taylor firstly and the takeover of Russell Crowe and Peter Holmes a Court and there's just a whole new professionalism around the club."
Williams does admit that he's looking forward to unwinding through this week and he says that Coffs Harbour is the perfect place to do it.
"It's always good to relax in Coffs, it's got a really relaxed atmosphere," he explained.
"I might get around and do a bit of sightseeing if I can but I'll be tied up out here for most days so I'll just sit back, relax and watch the touch footy, which is always a good standard."