World Cup Watch – Sonny Bill Williams

by Tom Fox

No rugby player has filled as many column inches over the last year as the New Zealander, Sonny Bill Williams. Jonah Lomu was the first global superstar of rugby and there hasn’t been too many of them since the giant winger. Williams is certainly another.

Aside from his obvious sporting talents, which we will get to, there is that unique magnetic quality to Williams which leaves you wanting more. It is an attribute that transcends his profession and makes you think that Sonny Bill was born to be in the spotlight. Even his name is rock ‘n roll.

Before his decision to switch codes, he was heralded as the best player in the NRL, making his debut for the Canterbury Bulldogs when he was just eighteen. From that point Sonny Bill went on to set new standards in the league with his ferocious tackling (if you can call it that), pace, power and of course the famous offload.

It was a shock to the sport then when he decided to walk away and pursue a career in union, with his mind firmly on the All Blacks and the World Cup. Williams learned his trade in Toulon under the tutelage of Tana Umaga among others. He is now back in his homeland playing for the Crusaders with a couple of All Black caps under his belt and a certainty for Graham Henry’s World Cup squad. Did I mention he is an accomplished boxer who has fought on the undercard of a couple of big fights and has a record of 4 and 0.

Aside from the celebrity that is Sonny Bill, is the player worth the hype? In a word, yes. The centre possesses attributes that can hurt any team in the world and can be genuinely exciting to watch. At times, people expect too much from him, given his short time playing union but overall, his conversion has been a massive success and Graham Henry certainly won’t be complaining.

An athlete in the truest sense, Williams is a monster centre at 6’3″ and over 17 stone. Even when you contain him in the tackle, his innate ability to offload is a bit special. One criticism leveled at him is that he looks to offload too much. He can step, is obviously hugle powerful and isn’t exactly slow off the mark either. He is different though and that what makes him so exciting.

Most people have seen Sonny Bill play at this stage but even if you have, watching him in the World Cup, on that stage, will be special. Because he is special. It is almost as if all roads have lead to this point for Sonny Bill and he is certainly a man for the big stage. When looking at ones to watch in the World Cup, Sonny Bill should be at the top of the list.

The below video has the highlights from his Super XV season this year. Well worth a watch. Excuse the shit song!

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