All Blacks Bench Sonny Bill
New Zealand All Blacks coach Graham Henry will start star centre Sonny Bill Williams on the bench in Saturday night’s Tri-Nations clash against the South Africa Springboks at Westpac Stadium in Wellington.
Having just this week announced his intention to re-sign with New Zealand Rugby Union for another Super Rugby season, multi-code talent Williams will have No. 22 on his back on Saturday night, one of seven players on the All Blacks substitute line-up.
After going down 39 – 20 to a resurgent Australian Wallabies team in the opening Tri Nations showdown of the series, South Africa will be looking to bounce back with a big performance against the All Blacks.
Henry is well aware of the danger the Boks present and is taking no chances, happy to have Williams make his home Test debut despite not playing in the Kiwi’s confidence-boosting 60 – 14 victory over Fiji in Dunedin last weekend.
“They are a proud rugby nation and won’t want a repeat performance so we will have to be ready for that challenge,” Henry said.
“But we have had a good build up this week and have picked a team we know that will be up for that challenge.”
Williams taking to the bench is one of four changes Henry made to the All Blacks squad from last weekend, Sonny Bill replacing Ben Smith.
Other alterations include Samuel Whitelock back at lock instead of Jarrad Hoeata, fly-half Dan Carter being given the chance to surpass the Test points record currently held by Jonny Wilkins, Jerome Kaino coming in at blindside flanker, Corey Jane resuming from a hand injury to play on the wing and Adam Thomson to don the No. 8 for the first time.
Carter, replacing Colin Slade in the starting 15, is just two points away from smashing Wilkins’ milestone of 1,195.
Williams is excited about Saturday night’s match saying he would give his everything if given a start, believing the All Blacks had a huge chance of success
“In the All Blacks setup every player brings something different,” he said.
“We all have to keep pushing ourselves whether we are in the top team or not.
“Coming from where I’ve come from (rugby league) I love to play with a bit of physicality and that’s what the South Africans bring.
“If I play this week I will be real keen to mix it with the big boys just like all year playing the South African teams.
“They’re massive men and they bring that intense physical challenge and that’s what I love.”
2011 All Blacks Tri-Nations Squad
New Zealand v South Africa – July 30, 2011 – Wellington
|RF||7||Richie McCaw (c)|
|CR||22||Sonny Bill Williams|