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Europe is closing gap, says Welsh winger

11/12/2008 01:42:34 PM Comments (0)

Welsh winger Shane Williams believes top European nations are closing the gap on the southern hemisphere even though his side were the only country to defeat one of the 'big three' in last month's Tests.

Williams, recently crowned the International Rugby Board player of the year, scored a fine try during Wales's 21-18 victory over Australia on November 29.

But that was a lone success with New Zealand completing a grand slam of wins over Scotland, Ireland, Wales and England on successive weekends.

Meanwhile world champions South Africa were also unbeaten on a shortened trip which didn't include a Test against Ireland while the Wallabies, who also saw off France and Italy, proved too strong for all their European opponents except the Welsh.

Nevertheless, while accepting the Tri-Nations were still the sides to beat, Williams told BBC Radio Five Live he felt the northern hemisphere was closing in.

"I don't think we're a million miles away. We're narrowing the gap every year," Williams said.

"Whereas in the past New Zealand would come over on tour and thump all the teams, this year teams are proving we can compete with the best in the world.

"We felt we were good enough to beat South Africa, played a very good 40 minutes against New Zealand but lost in the second half and then we beat Australia.

"Saying that, New Zealand, Australia and South Africa are the best three sides in the world at the moment, without question."

Williams refused to be drawn on whether Wales, who last season topped the Six Nations standings after completing a grand slam of wins, were still the best team in Europe.

"We will find out in the Six Nations," he said.

"I think we're playing the best rugby at the moment.

"We'll see. We're progressing. I don't want to jinx the side but we are capable of big things I think."

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