Former Welsh Winger, Shane Williams, will have large boots to fill this week.
The retired rugby international has arrived in Donegal ready to swap the oval ball for the round ball for the latest instalment of AIB’s documentary series The Toughest Trade as part of its GAA Club sponsorship.
Williams will join Donegal senior club champions Glenswilly for the duration of his trade, while clubman Michael Murphy will later travel to France to team up with top 14 side Clermont Auvergne.
Speaking about The Toughest Trade, Williams commented: “I’ve been to Donegal before, and it’s a lovely part of Ireland, with lovely people, so coming back is great. I’ve never watched a full game of Gaelic football as such so I’m really coming into this completely new to the sport and I’m looking forward to it.
“The chance to try something completely different now that I have the time to do it is exciting, and I want to take the challenge on and see how I do.”
But this is no holiday. Williams will face long, hard days in the northwest where this week temperatures are forecast to turn bitterly cold with the possibility of hail, sleet and snow. He will be fully immersed into the life of an amateur GAA club player; both physically and mentally. Among his responsibilities will be enduring early morning gym sessions, holding down a job as well as punishing late night training sessions.
Everything Williams learns in Glenswilly will prepare him for the final test; a challenge game against a neighbouring club. With all eyes on him and a deep-rooted local rivalry to contend with, Williams will line out in the ultimate game of pride. There he must put his knowledge and skills of the game to the test, proving to both himself and his Glenswilly club mates that he’s up to the challenge.
Speaking about challenge ahead of him, he said: “I’m not coming in with any expectation that it will be easy, that’s for sure. I know that it’s a physical sport and a highly skilled one, so I expect that I’m in for a hard time, and that’s exciting too. I want the boys to make it as hard as possible for me, so I can know what I’m capable of.”
He continued: “I could naively say now that rugby is more physical, but be completely proved wrong, so I’ll be in a better position to answer that after I’ve finished the challenge. But I am expecting it to be physical.”
The series is the creation of long-time GAA and camogie club championship sponsors AIB, having produced the first episode of The Toughest Trade in 2015.
Mark Doyle, Group Brands Director, AIB, said: “We’ve long believed that the GAA Club players are among the toughest athletes in the world, rivaling any professional athlete.
“The Toughest Trade gives us platform to test out our theory. This is the third year of the documentary and will probably be the most physically challenging. We’re really excited to see how the men get on both here and abroad.”
This is AIB’s third season producing The Toughest Trade as part of its #TheToughest campaign. In 2016 the documentary featured Tipperary’s Brendan Maher who went Down Under to play cricket with the Adelaide Strikers while Mayo’s Aidan O’ Shea travelled to the US to participate in an NFL combine.
All previous episodes of The Toughest Trade are free to view on AIB’s YouTube channel www.youtube.com/aib
For exclusive content and behind the scenes action from The Toughest Trade follow AIB GAA on Twitter and Instagram @AIB_GAA andfacebook.com/AIBGAA.
DECLAN BONNER will look to collect the first piece of silverware from his second tenure in charge of Donegal.