BROTHERS Rhys and Ryan Williams will make history if they both play for Australia in the friendly international against South Korea in Busan on June 7.
They will become the first WA-born siblings to turn out in the same team at senior level for the Socceroos.
The only previous time that two WA brothers have taken the field at the same time for Australia was in an under-age championship when the Naven twins, Gareth and Craig, took part in the Under-16 World Cup finals in China in 1985. Other WA brothers who have played for Australia (at under-age or senior level) are Jason and Michael Petkovic, and Richard and Michael Garcia – but not in the same team.
The inclusion of Rhys and Ryan is also the first time two brothers have been named in a Socceroos squad since Dylan and Ryan McGowan were selected in the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup squad.
Other brothers to represent the Socceroos in recent times include Adam and Joel Griffiths in May 2008, Adam and Ryan Griffiths in March 2008, Tony and Aurelio Vidmar in 2001 and John and Ross Aloisi in 1998.
Tall defender Rhys Williams is receiving a re-call to international action for the first time in five years. Injury has dogged him in recent years, but he already boasts 14 caps, his first coming in a World Cup qualifier against Japan in 2009.
The 30-year-old has played in England with Middlesbrough, Burnley and Charlton Athletic. He had a brief spell with Perth Glory before being a key figure in Melbourne Victory’s A-League title triumph in 2018. He now plays in Saudi Arabia with Al-Qadsiah.
Ryan, who is five years younger, is in line to make his senior debut for the Socceroos, but has already played as a winger for Australia at under-20 and under-23 level. He played in the World Youth Cup finals in Turkey in 2013.
A product of ECU Joondalup, he started his professional career in England with Portsmouth. He has also played for Fulham and Barnsley and is currently with Rotherham United.
The Williams brother’s father, Eric, is a former England amateur under-18 international. He played locally with Spearwood Dalmatinac, winning many titles, before turning to coaching and becoming a very successful WA State team coach. He was inducted in the Football Hall of Fame WA in 2005. Their mother Audrey played for the WA State women’s team, and Ryan’s twin, Aryn, is a former Glory player.
Two other WA-born players are in the Socceroos squad – striker Adam Taggart and midfielder Brandon O’Neill.
Former Perth Glory forward Taggart has already played seven times for the Australian senior side, including two games in the 2014 World Cup finals. He has also made 27 appearances at under-age level.
O’Neill, another former Glory player, is in his first senior Australian squad, having played twice at under-23 level. His call-up came after outstanding form with Sydney FC, including a major contribution in the recent A-League Grand Final victory over Glory.
There is another player in the Socceroos squad for the first time with a link to Western Australia – 20-year-old giant centre-half Harry Souttar, who currently plays with Stoke City in England.
Souttar was born in Aberdeen, but qualifies for Australia’s representative team through his mother Heather, who is originally from Port Hedland.
He has already played twice for Australia at under-23 level, after making five appearances for Scotland at under-17 and under-19 level.
His brother, John, plays for Hearts and has turned out three times for the Scotland senior national side. His father Jack is a former Brechin City player.
Completing the WA link are Perth Glory pair Chris Ikonomidis and Matthew Spiranovic, who are also included in the squad.
Sydney-born Idonomidis has already played 12 times for the Socceroos, while Geelong-born Spiranovic has worn the green and gold 35 times.
Socceroos coach Graham Arnold said of his squad, which contains six new faces: “The upcoming camp and friendly international in Korea Republic provides us the opportunity to expose more players to international football, which is vital as we prepare for a long World Cup qualification campaign.”
Australia will discover its opponents for the first phase of World Cup qualifiers in July, and will play preliminary fixtures on the road to Qatar at home and abroad in September, October and November 2019.
PIC ONE; Rhys Williams. PIC TWO: Ryan Williams. PIC THREE: Adam Taggart. PIC FOUR: Brandon O’Neill. PIC FIVE: Harry Souttar