The desperate Wallabies won’t be surprised if former league superstar
Sonny Bill Williams gets an early tour hit-out for the All Blacks on
Saturday, and they won’t be disappointed either.
New Zealand will name their teams for the Hong Kong Stadium Bledisloe
Cup dead rubber on Thursday, when most of the attention will be on
whether Williams secures a bench spot for a possible All Blacks debut.
Graham Henry’s men already holding a 3-0 advantage in this year’s
four-Test series, the Wallabies believe Williams could be given a chance
to stamp his credentials for the UK and Ireland leg of the tour.
got a tough tour with a grand slam so, if they need to get him onto the
field and see what he’s like, they’re going to have to do it sooner
rather than later,” Wallabies assistant Jim Williams told reporters in
Hong Kong on Wednesday.
“It would be great for the game to see him out there.
“Obviously he’s dying to get a run and it’s just a matter of timing about when they bring him in.”
The 25-year-old’s good form at provincial level in New Zealand has
catapulted him into the All Blacks squad and the Wallabies have no doubt
his Test debut is inevitable.
His signature offloads have the potential to wreak havoc on opposition defences.
“Looking at his pass there, he’s certainly an option, that’s for sure,” Jim Williams said.
“You can’t ignore him, it’s just a matter of timing.”
The decision on the former NRL star, who walked out on the Canterbury
Bulldogs in 2008 to switch codes with French club Toulon, is likely to
overshadow Wallabies boss Robbie Deans’ announcement of the side he
hopes can end a 10-Test losing streak to New Zealand.
co-selectors Williams and David Nucifora appear likely to stick tight
with the side that ended the 47-year drought on the South African
highveld last month.
Injured tighthead Ben Alexander should
return from outside that 22, meaning a decision between Salesi Ma’afu
and James Slipper for the bench.
Hooker Saia Fainga’a is also
available again after missing the final Tri-Nations match through
suspension, while winger Drew Mitchell looks set to regain his place
after recovering from a hamstring injury.
The Wallabies say it is
the mental side of their game they have focused on as they attempt to
end their poor run against the All Blacks, and a recent habit of letting
“We’ve been training scenarios … that we’ve needed
to perform under and probably didn’t throughout the Tri-Nations to the
extent that we were happy with,” lock Dean Mumm said.
learnt a lot, hopefully, about how to capitalise on those significant
moments in a game but I guess how successfully we’ve done that is yet to
be told in a significant environment.”