Williams to be a Smash in Rhinos Return
Season 2016 proved to be a learning experience for Terrance Williams both physically and mentally. As Williams prepares for his return to the Atlanta Rhinos in 2017 we caught up with the talented centre known as “smash” to discuss his 2016 journey and why it has him primed for his best season yet as he chases a National Championship with the Rhinos.
Terrance, Tell us about your experience in playing in Australia and being a Toronto Wolfpack “Last Tackle” finalist.
My experience playing in Australia for the Yass Magpies and trialling for the Toronto Wolfpack was amazing. It all felt as though I was in a dream world and was very surreal at the beginning. Obviously the best thing about being overseas apart from playing was the food and learning about the different cultures. I met some great people and made some great connections. Australia was my first experience of playing at higher level. Other than training and playing with Leeds in 2014. I remember thinking to myself at my first magpie’s session that everything was so fast. It was all so quick. Travelling to England and trialling with the Wolfpack and being part of the last tackle show was definitely the highlight of my career so far. As soon as I landed it was go time! Interviews, training sessions and eating my heart out. I enjoyed every single bit of my time there. I got the chance to meet 17 other great guys who were also finalist (Initial field was over 200 players) Training with the fulltime Wolfpack squad was a great experience. They made me feel a part of the team. I was able to take a lot out of my time being coached by Paul Rowley and Brian Noble. Themselves and the rest of the coaching staff really put and emphasis on the importance of knowing the basics and technique. Especially defensively.
2016 wasn’t without its challenges, two serious injuries and living in another country. It must have been difficult?
2016 definitely was a frustrating year for me injury wise. I broke my arm in Round 2 of the Canberra Raiders Cup in Australia. It was devastating. I had never had an injury previously and to fly all the way to Australia and break my arm in my second game, I felt my world came crushing down. I was unable to do what I loved to do and as an athlete, being injured is possibly one of the worst things that can happen. You become to feel isolated, depressed and unmotivated with not being able to practice or participate in everything the guys can do. I thought of going back home and getting the surgery but I decided to stick it out and was hopeful that it healed in time to return for the back end of the season. At the time I was living with Curtis Goddard, former Boston 13’s rival who was at the magpies, his wife Bridget and their son. They helped me to stay positive as well as my previous Rhinos coach Jordon Smedley and his family. I ended up getting back to play the last 10 games of the season. Then if the broken arm wasn’t enough, on my return to the USA, I played in the North/South all-stars match and tore m right pectoral 5 minutes into the game. I actually trialled for the Wolfpack with the injury and had surgery when I returned home. Being injured was definitely a humbling experience and really taught me not to take anything for granted. Surrounding yourself with positive people and having a strong support system can definitely help you get through and tough situation.
Moving forward to the 2017 season for the Rhinos, how does it feel to be back in Atlanta and what are your goals this season?
It means everything to me to be back home and playing for the Atlanta Rhinos again. There is nothing like playing at home with your brothers and in front of your family and friends. As much as I enjoyed Australia, I felt like I was missing out on so much back home last season. So being back with the guys makes it that much better. As far as the 2017 season goes I am hoping to achieve one goal and one goal only, the national championship baby. We fell short in 2015 against the Boston 13’s and this year is our time to win this thing. I am fully confident that we have the roster to bring the trophy back to Atlanta for the first time. I am also happy to be coached again by Jordon Smedley this season. He has been a mentor, a friend and a brother to me for the past four years. I couldn’t be happier that he is back in Atlanta coaching again. As far as my own game, I am hoping to gain more awareness as a support player and looking to work on my catch pass and my overall work rate.