"Is it right that when you step foot on the field in Dubai, you will be fastest footballer in world sevens?"
The question came to Trae Williams less than an hour after the sprinter-turned-footballer was picked to make his debut for the Australian sevens team next week.
“Yeah,” Williams replied.
"Carlin Isles has that at the moment but once I set foot on there, yeah, it’ll be me.”
The answer was technically correct. Williams, who is the fifth fastest Australian sprinter of all-time with a 10.10 personal best, can boast a superior time to Isles’ reported PB of 10.13.
But while technically correct, the answer was also technically provocative, given US flyer Isles shot back at a suggestion Williams could dust him for speed when the man known as “Quadzilla” was recruited by Australia in May.
I’m not losing no race period! Fastest forever!— Carlin Isles (@Carlin_Isles) May 22, 2019
Isles will no doubt be stewing until the pair meet on a footy field and settle it once and for all and, thankfully, that tantalising showdown shapes as being a mere week away, following the swift call-up for Williams to the Australian sevens team.
Just sevens months after being recruited from the Australian athletics team, Williams was a somewhat surprising pick for the opening round of the World Sevens Series in Dubai on December 6-7.
Tim Walsh said Williams had earned the selection given his impressive transition to rugby and could bring something special for the Australian team in the tournament.
But in a juicy twist that even Walsh couldn’t wait to point towards, the Aussies have the USA in their pool; meaning Williams and Isles could potentially go head-to-head in the game, which is played early Saturday morning (AEST).
"That’s the game I am most excited to play,” Williams said.
"To go up against Perry Baker and Carlin Isles, just to get a match up between me and him, that’d be good.”
Isles isn’t shy in declaring himself to be the fastest rugby player in the world - it’s his social media bio - but while he doesn’t lack confidence, Williams said he is not from the school of trash-talking 100m sprinters.
"I am usually pretty quiet and keep to myself. Let the actions do the talking. I don’t think there will be much trash talk (with Isles),” Williams said.
But will you run around him and score?
"That’s the plan,” Willliams grinned.
For all the fun and games that will no doubt follow with Quadzilla and Isles, Williams admitted he had actually used Isles and Baker as role models of how to convert raw speed into effective footy speed on a field.
Baker is a former World Player of the Year and Isles is no longer just limited to just trying to run a wide circle outside a defender.
"I watched the highlights and also just a few of their games, him and Perry Baker obviously,” Williams said.
"I watched how they play and just try to take that a little bit in what I do as well.”
Unlike Isles and Baker, Williams has the comparative advantage of having played rugby league and rugby union throughout his childhood and Walsh said they’d been mightily impressed with their new recruit, both in games and at training.
"He has earned it. He has made a really good transition, a lot quicker than what we anticipated,” Walsh said.
El australiano ★Trae Williams★ 10"10 (+0.4) en el nacional de 100m, Gold Coast— | Joaquín Carmona | (@Jokin4318) February 16, 2018
● Tiene 20 años
● Marca mundial 2018
● Hasta hace ➌ semanas nunca Sub 10"27
● Fijarse en sus cuádriceps y estatura (~1.68m) pic.twitter.com/q0D2hXPdLz
"The way he has trained and performed, he has been given the chance and earned the spot. He has a point of difference that is pretty remarkable and we want to be able to unleash that and build combinations and cohesion throughout this season.
"He is going to make mistakes, as we all will. He is going to have to learn from that but this tournament for him is a debut and something he should cherish and enjoy, and not get too worried about making errors.”
Walsh said Williams had stood up when it came to the non-negotiable of playing elite rugby - knowing how to tackle.
"It’s been a steep learning curve (but) it’s faster than what we anticipated,” he said.
"When it all came about we weren't just signing him as a sprinter. We had seen him play as a junior, only three or four years ago. But when he came in, the way he applied himself as a professional athlete was elite.
"And then his contact skills, which we thought would be the area that would be the hardest, he has excelled in. His defence is outstanding. So that is really positive."
Williams said he "got a bit of a bashing to start”.
“But you have got to get into it, and get through it. Because bigger boys are going to be running at you on the field,” he said.
"It’s all come really quick. I didn’t really expect to be out there in the first tournament with the boys. But I have worked hard and Walshy and Hoilesy have seen that and they’ve given me the chance to go out there and do my best for the team.”
Josh Turner will make his debut as well after also being named for the Dubai tournament.
Nick Malouf takes over the captaincy role from the injured Lewis Holland with Jesse Parahi also returning to the main squad.
1. Nick Malouf (c), University of Queensland, 35 caps
2. Joe Pincus, Easts (Sydney), 6 caps
3. Lachlan Anderson, Eastwood, 22 caps,
4. Simon Kennewell, Randwick, 19 caps
5. Jeral Skelton, Brothers, 14 caps
6. Jesse Parahi, 44 caps
7. Maurice Longbottom, Lloyd McDermott Rugby Development Team, 15 caps
8. Josh Turner*, Manly
9. Josh Coward, Souths (Melbourne), 5 caps
10. Lachlan Miller, Randwick, 6 caps
11. Trae Williams*
12. Henry Hutchison, Randwick, 26 caps
13th Matt Hood, Sydney University, 6 caps
*Denotes uncapped on World Series
Qantas Australian Men’s Sevens, Fixtures:
Friday 6 December
Australia v Scotland, 12.50am AEDT
Australia v Ireland, 6.58pm AEDT
Saturday 7 December
Australia v USA, 1.12am AEDT