Sonny Bill happy to wing it
October 12, 2011
New Zealand utility back Sonny Bill Williams says he is surprised how well he's coped when deployed on the wing © Getty Images
All Blacks star Sonny Bill Williams believes he has proved his doubters wrong with a string of eye-catching displays on the wing.
The gifted 26-year-old was considered a centre option coming into the Rugby World Cup and started the tournament opener against Tonga in the No.12 shirt. But the form of long-standing duo Ma'a Nonu and Conrad Smith forced All Blacks coach Graham Henry into finding room elsewhere for his game-breaking talents.
Williams was used as a replacement winger against Japan and France - bagging three tries in the process - and also started the quarter-final clash with Argentina to underline his flexibility and answer those who had questioned the switch.
"I've surprised myself how well I've played on the wing," he said. "Some people didn't think I could play rugby [union], but I showed them that I can. I'm always a confident player and if I'm put out there [on the wing] I'll do the job as best I can, just do the little things and it all comes good. I'm doing all the little things right, I'm ticking all the boxes during the week and staying in the now, not looking back at the past or what's happened."
As a result, he is now pressing for a starting berth for the World Cup semi-final clash with Australia at Eden Park on Sunday alongside Richard Kahui, Cory Jane and new squad addition Hosea Gear and Williams believes the battle for places has had a positive impact on the squad.
"Competition is fierce within the team," Williams added. "But it's a good competition and it brings the best out of us. Hopefully, I'll get picked and I'm involved. If I am, that's great."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
John Taylor argues the world's best XVs players must be given a chance to play in the Olympics to increase the appeal of the game
The All Blacks' form is not a peaking issue, but Hansen must threaten to wield his axe, to demand improvement, Craig Dowd writes
"It has been the World Cup that smashed down the gender barriers of the sport." Tom Hamilton looks back at a remarkable tournament
A selection of the best pictures from England's historic World Cup triumph in Paris as they beat Canada 21-9