Sonny Bill keeping emotions in check
August 1, 2012
Sonny Bill Williams will bid farewell to the Chiefs following Saturday night's Super Rugby finale © Getty Images
Sonny Bill Williams is attempting to keep a lid on his emotions ahead of his Super Rugby farewell on Saturday night.
The All Blacks international will spearhead the Chiefs' quest for a first title against the Sharks in what will be his last appearance for the side ahead of a move to Japanese side the Wild Knights later this month and a likely return to rugby league next year.
The 26-year-old Rugby World Cup winner, who has rated the showdown with the Sharks as "probably the biggest" game of his career, has clearly forged a significant bond with the Chiefs since switching from the Crusaders last year and parting will not be easy.
"I've said it earlier in the year - I've played in a lot of teams but I guess the emotions I feel playing with the boys, especially after last week's (semi-final) win, are probably second to none," he told Fairfax Media. So, hopefully, we do win this week and this will definitely be right up there."
Williams is well aware emotions could scupper the Chiefs' chances of erasing their mauling at the hands of the Bulls in the 2009 Super 14 Final and is determined to keep them in check. "They tend to eat you up and next thing you know you'll be sitting at home awake at night not being able to sleep so you've just got to push it all to one side and hopefully when the final hooter comes you can let it all out," said Williams.
The game may be a 25,100 sell-out but the relatively quiet build-up has been welcomed by Williams. "Last year with the Crusaders and this year as well; like there's been a few extra media people here but it's nowhere near as big a buildup as for an NRL grand final.
"It's pretty low-key and I think that's a good thing, especially for the boys here. The Sharks are in tremendous form, playing some superb footy, and we're going to have to play better than we did last week, so it's a big ask, but I'm confident we can do it."
Williams' contribution to New Zealand rugby is set to extend beyond this weekend with the in-form centre set to play a limited role in the All Blacks' Rugby Championship campaign due to injuries within coach Steve Hansen's squad.
"I just had a quick chat with Steve (Hansen) and he told me about their situation. I said, of course I'd love to (play) if all the things are right on the Japanese front and it's worked out well.
"But that's probably the only time I've talked about it. You guys (the media) have made a big deal about it, but for me, my heart, soul and mind is definitely with the Chiefs. One more week and then I'll worry about that."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
The Heineken Cup proved once again just why it is the best domestic rugby competition in the world at the weekend and Monday Maul picks out some of the key talking points
The latest Week in Pictures brings you a selection of the best snaps from around the rugby world with scantily clad ladies, O'Driscoll and snow all featuring
"If I miss the first kick of the match, it shouldn't have any impact on the second. They are different entities." Tom Hamilton talks to Northampton Saints' Stephen Myler
It's time for those running Welsh rugby to stop trying to prevent its players heading to France and to start planning a future without them, writes Martin Williamson