Rugby League


NRL: Canberra Raiders halfback Sam Williams on sliding doors moment with Gold Coast Titans

If things went a little differently last year, Canberra Raiders halfback Sam Williams could easily have been in the visitor's dressing room this weekend.

But instead of steering the Gold Coast Titans around the park, Williams is revelling in his extended opportunity in the Raiders' No.7 jersey.

Williams will be aiming to deliver the Raiders their third win from four games this season when they host the Titans at Canberra Stadium on Saturday.

He is carrying the attacking load for the Raiders while star halves Blake Austin and Aidan Sezer are sidelined with injury.

It's why the Raiders denied an inquiry for Williams to be released from the final year of his contract to join the Titans this season.


The Titans were in desperate need of a halfback after Daly Cherry-Evans' backflip to stay at Manly and Sezer's decision to join the Raiders.

"That sort of stuff, I didn't really look into too much," Williams said.

"It was all done away from me, I didn't have a say in it.

"By the time I found out, everything was over anyway.

"It wasn't something I had to think about or worry about too much."

Austin (knee) and Sezer (cheekbone) could return as early as the round five game against the Bulldogs at Belmore.

Williams enjoyed a breakthrough season with the Raiders last year in his second stint with the club.

The 25-year-old Cooma junior came through the Raiders' junior system and made his first-grade debut in 2011.

However, Williams was unable to establish himself in first grade and joined the St George Illawarra Dragons in 2014.

He played four games in the top grade before finishing the year in France with Super League club the Catalans Dragons.

Williams rejoined the Raiders last year on a two-year deal but fell behind Mitch Cornish for the starting halfback job.

It wasn't long before Williams was given his chance, forming a steady partnership with Austin during the second half of last season.

The addition of Sezer puts the Raiders in the enviable position of having three quality halves to fill two positions.

Williams is one of several halves who will hit the open market along with Souths halfback Luke Keary, Parramatta Eels playmaker Corey Norman and St George Illawarra veteran Benji Marshall.

After missing out on Williams, the Titans went after Brisbane Broncos under-20s star Ashley Taylor.

He's made the most of his opportunity with the Gold Coast's starting halfback Kane Elgey on the sidelines.

Taylor has hit the ground running to help the Titans, who also boast a familiar face in former Raiders prop David Shillington, to a surprising 2-1 start to the season and a spot in the top eight.

"Really good footballer. He's started off really well," Williams said of Taylor.

"He's taken a lot of control up there.

"They're a very under-rated side, the Titans.

"They've got a lot of big men and the halves are playing good footy.

"Shillo's got a lot of experience on this ground and knows our style of footy, so it's important we go out there and match them."

SATURDAY: NRL round four: Canberra Raiders v Gold Coast Titans at Canberra Stadium, 5.30pm. TV: Fox Sports 1. Tickets at Ticketek.