18 May, 11:09
IRFU Chief Executive Philip Browne has issued a statement following confirmation of Ronan O'Gara's decision to retire from playing professional rugby.
The Australian saw his first match end in a lacklustre 23-10 defeat by Wales in Cardiff last weekend while reigning Six Nations kings England began their bid for back-to-back Grand Slams by sweeping aside Italy 50-9 in Rome.
But Williams tried to diffuse a growing mood of national pessimism, not helped by the Scottish soccer team's 4-1 defeat against Wales on Wednesday, by insisting his squad had not given up despite the predictions on both sides of the border that they were in for a Calcutta Cup thrashing.
"We're really looking forward to it and we're going to take it on," Williams said ahead of his first match on 'home' soil.
"Every Scottish supporter leaving the ground on Saturday will know that we have given every drop of desire, passion, sweat and blood, if necessary, to win the game.
"The English are world champions but of course I believe it. If I didn't believe it I would get out of here."
Fine words but it is hard to make a case for anything other than an England victory. They have won 23 of their last 24 Tests and 13 of their last 14 Calcutta against Scotland. The odd one out was Scotland's 19-13 win at Murrayfield in 2000 which denied England a Grand Slam.
But Clive Woodward's side are tougher now and more adept at adjusting their game to the kind of appalling conditions that confronted them in Edinburgh four years ago.
Scotland, by contrast, rebuilding after a host of World Cup retirements, have few genuine game-breakers in their side. Even David Sole, Scotland's captain when they denied England a Grand Slam at Murrayfield back in 1990, could not see how the present side might repeat history. "In all honesty, the head says England by 20 points."
However the fact that Scotland are such overwhelming underdogs may just give them inspiration to prove the doubters wrong. Their defence, which at times was conceding overlaps on both sides against Wales will, however, have to be vastly improved if they are to stop the likes of fleet-footed England centre Jason Robinson, who ran in a hat-trick of tries against Italy.
But Woodward was refusing to take anything for granted saying England had to hit the ground running: "We need to start strongly - the opening is very important."
Both sides have made changes from the opening weekend with Williams calling up Simon Webster in place of Andrew Henderson on the left wing with flanker Jason White also coming off the bench for Allister Hogg.
Woodward has made just one switch for the latest edition of rugby union's oldest internationalk fixture with Chris Jones replacing injured flanker Joe Worsley. Jones, who came off the bench against Italy to mark his Test debut with the last of England's seven tries, is rated so highly by Woodward he has continued to omit World Cup-winning flanker Neil Back.
Williams can only dream of such rich playing resources. But the Scottish public are likely to keep faith with the new man just so long as there is a marked improvement from last week. Victory though would not just be the biggest upset in rugby union since France came from behind to beat New Zealand in the 1999 World Cup semi-final. It would be one of the all-time great sporting shocks.
Scotland: Ben Hinshelwood (Worcester/ENG); Simon Danielli (Bath/ENG), Tom Philip (Edinburgh), Brendan Laney (Edinburgh), Simon Webster (Edinburgh); Chris Paterson (Edinburgh, capt), Chris Cusiter (Borders); Simon Taylor (Edinburgh), Cameron Mather (Glasgow), Jason White (Sale/ENG); Stuart Grimes (Newcastle/ENG), Scott Murray (Edinburgh); Bruce Douglas (Borders), Gordon Bulloch (Glasgow) Tom Smith (Northampton/ENG) Replacements: Robert Russell (Saracens/ENG), Gavin Kerr (Leeds/ENG), Nathan Hines (Edinburgh), Allister Hogg (Edinburgh), Mike Blair (Edinburgh), Dan Parks (Glasgow), Andrew Henderson (Glasgow)
England: Iain Balshaw (Bath); Josh Lewsey (Wasps), Will Greenwood (Harlequins) Jason Robinson (Sale), Ben Cohen (Northampton); Paul Grayson (Northampton), Andy Gomarsall (Gloucester); Lawrence Dallaglio (Wasps, capt), Richard Hill (Saracens), Chris Jones (Sale); Ben Kay (Leicester), Danny Grewcock (Bath); Phil Vickery (Gloucester), Steve Thompson (Northampton), Trevor Woodman (Gloucester) Replacements: Mark Regan (Leeds), Jason Leonard (Harlequins), Simon Shaw (Wasps), Alex Sanderson (Sale), Matt Dawson (Northampton), Olly Barkley (Bath), Henry Paul (Gloucester)
Referee: Pablo Deluca (ARG)
AFP - 2004