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Wales call up Swansea-born, Auckland-based flanker

Wales have called up North Harbour Hibiscus and New Zealand Defence back row Kate Williams as a replacement for injured flanker Alisha Butchers.

Swansea-born Williams trained with Wales during their pre-season camp in July. She was captain of the North Harbour side in the Farah Palmer Cup in 2020 and 2021 and recently represented the New Zealand Defence team in the Defence Rugby World Cup when she got the call from Wales head coach Ioan Cunningham.

She moved to New Zealand with her family aged four and is a Warfare Officer in the New Zealand Navy.

Ioan Cunningham said, “Kate has been on our radar for a while. She’s Welsh, born in Swansea and has played a high level of rugby in New Zealand. We are delighted to have her in our squad and excited to see what she can do in the future. When she trained with us in July, I made her aware that she could be involved if anything happened while we were over here and I’m pleased with the way she’s got stuck into training and settled into our environment.”

Kate said, “I’m super honoured and excited to be training with Wales.

“My whole family is Welsh and I’ve always felt a strong connection to Wales despite growing up here. We’ve always supported Wales as a family, my parents have made sure my brother and I feel a part of Wales.

“I got a great opportunity to train with Wales in July through a grapevine situation so I took my chance and booked my tickets. It was probably the best thing I’ve done. I thoroughly enjoyed that experience and means I already know most of the girls a little bit.

“It’s obviously a different vibe now that we’re in the middle of the world cup compared to pre-season but that’s what you’d expect, everyone is very switched on.

“I started playing rugby aged four with North Shore Rugby Club. I played for Glenfield College then U18s for North Harbour, East Coast Bays and since 2017 North Harbour Hibiscus and my rugby highlight until now was representing Blues Women and then recently the NZ Defence team experience was brilliant too.

“Training with Wales in July made me focus on my rugby future, it’s what I want to do. I’ve arranged to take a year’s unpaid leave from January so I want to have a real go at playing rugby semi-professionally or professionally in the UK and see where that takes me.

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“To even be training with Wales and to have a sniff of getting a chance is something I couldn’t even dream of previously. I’m putting everything into training. I’m in the right place at the right time and I will definitely take any opportunity I get with both hands.

“There’s fantastic strength in depth in the back row and I’ve learned so much from the other players already. Everyone has a point of difference in terms of what they bring to the team. I feel my point of difference is speed over the ball and taking some defensive steals, that’s what I love about being a back rower and it would be amazing to have the chance to show what I can do on the field.”