Williams sees room for improvement
Rugby:Sonny Bill Williams’ influence was stamped all over a ruthless New Zealand display as the All Blacks romped to a 49-3 victory over Scotland at Murrayfield.
The All Blacks made the most of Williams’ ability to pass out of the tackle to romp over for seven converted tries and move halfway towards a third Grand Slam in five years.
Next up for Graham Henry’s side are Ireland, with Wales the following week, as they bid to add to the successes of 2005 and 2008.
And despite a man-of-the-match display in his second Test, rugby league convert Williams — who combines brutal force from his colossal 6ft 3in (1.91m), 17 stones (108kg) frame with basketball-style slight of hand — believes there is still plenty of room for improvement.
“There’s still things I need to address and work on, but I’ve always said I’m a work in progress,” said Williams. “I’ve got to keep on working and continue to improve. It was a good game because the team played terrifically. As a whole our forwards led the way and made it a lot easier for us to get that quick ball and get a roll on.”
Williams insisted his offloads out of the tackle were only so effective due to the support he receives from his team-mates. He added: “I just hope they catch it, because if they don’t catch it... you’re only as good as your support play and you probably can’t get much better than the boys that I played alongside in the last couple of weeks. It does make it a lot easier.”
Williams made his debut in the 26-16 win over England at Twickenham and retained his place as Ma’a Nonu made way for Conrad Smith at Murrayfield. However, the 25-year-old is aware Nonu will be eager to return in Dublin and he may have to take his turn on the bench as Henry juggles his wealth of midfield riches.
“Ma’a and Conrad to me are the best midfield combination in the world,” added Williams. “As long as I can keep my foot in there and hopefully keep staying in that 22 and get a bit of game time here and there, I know I’ll improve.
“It was a step forward — now I know I can mix it at this level — but in saying that there’s still big games ahead and there’s a long way to go.”
All Blacks captain Richie McCaw and full-back Mils Muliaina are desperate to play against Ireland. The duo won their 92nd caps, equalling Sean Fitzpatrick’s record, and will be looking to surpass the landmark at the Aviva Stadium.
“Hopefully I can push for a starting spot next week,” said Muliaina. “The position I’m in at the moment every game is a bonus for me. I really want to keep getting out there and if I can keep pushing on and play some good footy then hopefully that speaks for itself.”
Muliaina crossed for two of the All Blacks’ tries in Edinburgh, Hosea Gear also scoring twice, with Dan Carter, Smith and Andy Ellis touching down, while outhalf Carter added five conversions and his replacement Stephen Donald two.