The task of stepping into the shoes of Steve Redgrave and Matthew Pinsent has fallen to Steve Williams, the most experienced rower in Britain's flagship crew.

Williams, who won Olympic gold in the men's four alongside Pinsent in Athens, will be the oldest member of the crew this time around in a boat which has been dogged by injury and crew changes in the build-up to the Games.

The men's four has traditionally been one of Britain's strongest boats, winning Olympic gold in Sydney and Athens.

But the four failed to win a medal at the world championships in 2007 or to make the final at the World Cup in Lucerne this year after making changes due to injury.

In Beijing, Williams and his crew are likely to face stiff competition from Australia, the Netherlands, the United States and New Zealand.

"There is a different feel to the team," Williams told a press conference at the squad announcement.

"Talking from experience ... we're not the favourites, we're not the only chance of a medal ... so it's quite nice not to have that pressure and to be able to focus on doing our own thing."

The four, with the line-up of Williams, Tom James, Pete Reed and Andy Hodge, recovered from Lucerne to finish second behind the Netherlands in the final World Cup race before the Olympics.

Williams, who with Pinsent, James Cracknell and Ed Coode won in Athens by less than a tenth of a second, is likely to have to draw deep again.

"I'm now quite pleased with the four," his coach Juergen Grobler told Reuters recently. "Of course we've had to make changes but ... it is important to learn from losing.

"We know that we have beaten everyone in this event so there isn't anything we can't do." Redgrave and Pinsent won two golds together in the men's pair and one in the 2000 four's final.