The All Blacks decided against throwing Rugby League convert Sonny Bill Williams into the fray against the Wallabies in Hong Kong on Saturday because he is not good enough yet to swim at the deep end.
Despite fast-tracking the giant utility back’s entry into the New Zealand squad for the year-end tour, All Black coach Graham Henry on Thursday admitted it would have been too much of a risk exposing him to the battle-hardened Australians after just a few provincial games of Rugby Union in New Zealand.
Williams did not even make the replacement bench for Saturday’s Test in Hong Kong, with Ma’a Nonu and Conrad Smith named in the centres and Isaia Toeava listed in the reserves as cover.
Williams has been the most talked about member of the tour party, but the hyped-up 25-year-old will have to bide his time until the Grand Slam leg of the tour to add an All Blacks cap to his seven appearance for the Kiwis Rugby League team.
Toeava may have played five fewer games of provincial rugby than Williams this season, but the versatile Aucklander’s 26 Tests of experience ensured he was the logical choice to cover the midfield and outside backs.
“We didn’t want to fire Sonny Bill in at the deep end,” Henry said when posed the obvious question.
There was also the inference that Williams had to earn his right to acquire a test jumper, despite him being a certainty to tour since his return from France in June.
Courtesy of rugby365.comTweet