French are dangerous opponents, says All Blacks’ Williams

2011-10-19 08:29

New ZealandAll Black centre Sonny Bill Williams says the unpredictability of the French is what makes them such dangerous opponents in the Rugby World Cup final at Eden Park on Sunday.

Williams started his professional rugby league career with the Canterbury Bulldogs in the Australian NRL. In 2008 he controversially left the Bulldogs to play rugby union with French club Toulon.

In 2010 Williams signed with the New Zealand Rugby Union in a bid to play for the All Blacks at the 2011 Rugby World Cup. He played for Canterbury in the 2010 NPC ITM Cup before being selected for the All Blacks’ end of year tour in 2010, making his debut against England at Twickenham.

He played for the Crusaders in the 2011 season of Super Rugby.The 26-year-old says his time playing with Toulon has taught him that anything is possible when it comes to playing against the French.

“Expect the unexpected,” he said after the All Black training session in pouring rain at the Trust stadium in Waitakere today.“They can shock us, as they’ve done in past World Cups.

“You can play against one side one week and then you play against them a couple of weeks later and they’re a different team. Past form means nothing. Their scrum is up there with the best in the world, their line-out is not too bad either and their backs are unpredictable.”

Williams says playing in Rugby World Cup 2011 has been a dream come true for him. “Being with your team-mates for so long, I think that’s when you start seeing those silly handshakes and that because you just get close to one another. You form friendships that last beyond the World Cup.

“I haven’t really thought too much about after the World Cup, I’ve just been having so much fun, going from week to week trying to stay alive and stay in the team. That’s been the whole focus. This Sunday is the big one and hopefully we can win it, because I think we deserve to.”

New Zealand second row Ali Williams says there is a fine line between complacency and being relaxed ahead of Sunday’s final against France. “If you are too relaxed then you overlook the little things, the intricacies of the game, but if you’re not relaxed enough you can get too tense and you don’t enjoy the moment.

“We’re just trying to enjoy the week, because it’s different to any other week that we’ll ever have.” He says the support from the New Zealand public has been overwhelming.

“I’ve never seen the country like this in my life. I was there in ’95 when we had the America’s Cup and that was pretty phenomenal but this is another world.

I haven’t had to pay for one breakfast at my local cafe yet, which is pretty brilliant. But the flags on the cars and the excitement of people getting into it.

They haven’t focused too much on the result they’ve focused on the whole event and for Kiwis that’s pretty special.” The big lock forward believes the support of the crowd will definitely count in their favour.

“When people are roaring like that you don’t miss a tackle. You’ve got that extra half a centimetre in the stride. It’s just mind-blowing the noise that’s generated. It does things for you when you’re playing that you can’t explain.”

Williams believes last week’s (All Blacks) performance against Australia won’t be good enough to win the final.“I don’t care what you think of how the French have played in the last few weeks, they’ll be a completely different side.

They’ll be a team that’s possessed and if we’re not at that level or better, then we’ll walk away with nothing.” 

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