Saturday 24 February 2018

McCaw hails Sonny Bill impact

For a player who enjoyed a decent but hardly stellar rugby union spell at Toulon, Sonny Bill Williams has already made such an impact for the All Blacks that you wonder if the former rugby league star is not the missing link in their perennial World Cup quest, WRITES BRENDAN GALLAGHER.

Williams is a big fast unit and does his fair share of ball-carrying and tackling at centre, but it his uncanny ability to offload against the odds that could bring a new dimension to New Zealand's play.

At Murrayfield on Saturday it played no small part in the All Blacks' seven-try demolition of Scotland, a nigh-on perfect display that dispelled any lingering frustration over their sloppy recent defeat against Australia and a patchy win over England.

"He is a real threat with the ball and he wants to fit in," enthused Williams' captain Richie McCaw after this game.

Against Ireland on Saturday, Brian O'Driscoll and Gordon D'Arcy will pose an interesting challenge, though it is possible that Henry will now opt to rest the new boy and re-unite the old firm of Conrad Smith and Ma'a Nonu in the centre. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

SCOTLAND -- H Southwell; R Lamont (N Walker 40), M Evans, G Morrison, S Lamont; D Parks (R Jackson 67) M Blair (capt) (G Laidlaw 38); A Jacobsen, R Ford (S Lawson 64), E Murray (A Dickinson 64); R Gray, J Hamilton (N Hines 40); K Brown (R Rennie 64), R Vernon, J Barclay.

NEW ZEALAND -- M Muliaina; I Toeava, C Smith, SB Williams, H Gear; D Carter (S Donald 51), J Cowan (A Ellis 58); T Woodcock, H Elliot, O Franks (J Afoa 53); B Thorn (A Boric 57), S Whitelock; L Messam, R McCaw (capt) (D Braid 58), K Read.

Ref -- D Pearson (England).

Irish Independent

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