Williams delights in recall
July 10, 2011
Ali Williams has been in outstanding form for the Blues this term and has been rewarded with a recall to the All Blacks Tri-Nations squad. © Getty Images
All Blacks fly-half Colin Slade has his portrait taken All Blacks fly-half Dan Carter poses for his portrait All Blacks second-row Ali Williams celebrates returning to the national side with a portrait All Blacks second-row Jarrad Hoeata celebrates his call-up with a portrait Ali Williams addresses the media
Ali Williams has capped a remarkable season with a recall to the All Blacks Tri-Nations squad and the lock rates it as a better achievement than his Test rugby debut.
Second-row Williams won the last of his 61 Test caps in 2009 but the 30-year-old has shown signs of being back to his enforcer best in this season's Super Rugby competition. Williams, who has lost effectively two years of his career to serious Achilles injuries, when asked about whether this recall was sweeter than his debut responded: "The reality is this time, I've probably put more work into it. The other time just came about."
The All Blacks second-row started his 2011 season in England playing for Nottingham in the Championship in a bid to regain fitness ahead of the Super Rugby season. He then started in the Blues' first four Super 15 matches before a hamstring injury forced him sit out four rounds. When he got over that problem, he began to produce some eye-catching performances that got him into Test reckoning again.
Williams describes the recall as a "special feeling" but agreed that there had been some dark moments in his recovery. Following the second operation on his damaged Achilles, Williams' recovery was by no means guaranteed. "The reality is that you have to dig deep, you have to find the things that motivate and putting that jersey on is my biggest motivator," Williams said, talking to the NZPA. "That was my dream. I haven't put it on yet. I'm in the squad and now I have to add to it."
Despite holding onto the hope of reclaiming the New Zealand jersey, Williams insists that he was focussed solely on playing for the Blues. Following their semi-final defeat to the Reds , it was only then that Williams started wondering whether he had done enough to be included in the Tri-Nations party. "I just wanted to play and the Blues had such a great season that I wanted to be part of that. In terms of the whole All Blacks thing, it wasn't until this week, when you've got a lot of time to think about it, you start thinking, 'Am I going to be named in the team, have I done enough?'"
Williams will now be part of the squad that will continue their preparations with a two-day camp in Auckland on Thursday and Friday. The team will then assemble in Dunedin on July 18 to prepare for the Test against Fiji at Carisbrook on July 22. They kick-off their Tri-Nations campaign against South Africa in Wellington on July 30.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Proposals to remove promotion and relegation from the Aviva Premiership would be for the good of the game overall, argues John Taylor
Ireland have the world sitting up and taking notice - and rugby's structure in Europe will aid their Rugby World Cup bid, writes John Mitchell
Where does Italy's win over Scotland rank among their successes in the Six Nations? Scrum Sevens investigates
The tone was set early on in Dublin as a more clinical Ireland made England pay. All is not lost, however, argues Phil Vickery