Upbeat Williams keeps Victory spirit high

Ben McKay
Rhys Williams played 25 games for Melbourne Victory this season before his semi-final injury blow

Rhys Williams won't play in the A-League grand final but the Melbourne Victory defender could hardly be more involved in his club's week.

The experienced 29-year-old was an 11th hour withdrawal from Victory's semi-final win over Sydney FC after hurting his calf in the warm-up.

That injury scrubbed his chances of playing in Saturday's showpiece against Newcastle Jets, but Williams has shown his character by immersing himself in Victory's build-up.

Williams has been at the club every day this week and has kitted up for training, looking on with and sharing jokes with coach Kevin Muscat.

Muscat used his defensive stalwart as the basis of his pre semi-final team talk, with Victory's players huddled around the defender in the rooms.

There will be no emotional rallying cry this week but Williams is playing his role by lifting his teammates with his presence and upbeat attitude.

Having known his sense of heartache through this career, Williams is experienced enough to know there's no point in stewing on the setback.

The long-time Middlesbrough defender tore an achilles while in England and missed the chance to play in the 2014 World Cup and 2015 Asian Cup.

Victory even toyed with putting Williams on the bench alongside coach Kevin Muscat and head trainer Anthony Crea for the grand final.

Assistant Jean-Paul de Marigny and goalkeeping coach Dean Anastasiadis have been banned from match-day roles due to their ugly semi-final pitch invasion.

Without accreditation, Williams cannot play that match-day role.

Whether he will be next to Christian Theoharous on the stands is yet to be seen.

The 18-year-old flyer has been unseen at Victory training this week.

He's been confined to resting his ankle in a moon boot, swimming laps and riding the exercise bike with Victory hoping he can make it onto Gosch's Paddock for an open training session on Thursday.

If he can't manage to participate then, he will have a final chance to prove his fitness in a short run-out on Friday morning before the team leaves for the Hunter.

Theoharous is contending for a place on the bench given the stunning finals form of Kosta Barbarouses and the class of Leroy George.

Victory won't train or step foot on McDonald Jones Stadium until the match on Saturday night due to an NRL match being held there on Friday night.

The Jets have chosen not to train on the grand final venue this week.