Sonny Bill Williams has spent the week stamping out his emotions. He’s become pretty good at farewells over the years as his career has ducked and dived its way through Sydney, France, Christchurch and Hamilton.
It will be thed same when the All Blacks run on to Eden Park tonight, sing the anthem, do the haka and get on with the business of defending the Bledisloe Cup. But don’t be fooled by Williams’s game face. Inside, he will be a bundle of emotions – just as he was during the Chiefs’ Super Rugby final win over the Sharks, when his true feelings came spilling out after the full-time whistle.
“It’s the same as the Chiefs – I’ve got to put all that stuff to one side, prepare as best I can, do all the homework, get all the plays down pat, do all the homework on Australia and see where we can attack them,” Williams said. “I’ll concentrate on that instead of getting all emotional because that could take away from what I’m doing.”
Read between the lines and you get the feeling the 27-year-old has come to the realisation he’s giving up something he has come to cherish.
“Skip [Richie McCaw] says every time we get in the huddle that there’s a lot of other boys who want to be in it. Sometimes you listen but you don’t really take it in. But that’s kind of hit me in the last couple of weeks that I’m going to be involved. It will really hit when the boys go away overseas to play but who knows what the future holds. Maybe I’ll be putting my hand up to be back in the mix.”
Williams’s All Blacks career will go into hibernation at 19 Tests. He will head to Japan, then back to the league scene in Sydney. Perhaps the greatest advance has been the way he has grasped where his individual talents fit within a team collective.
“It was a little rusty, but in saying that we were able to help set up a couple of tries just through our decoy lines,” he observed of his combination with Ma’a Nonu in Sydney. “He’s a dangerous player, it’s just about finding the space between us, and hopefully we do that this week.”
One person sad to see Williams leave just as he’s settling in is five-eighth Dan Carter. “He’s been huge for us and a strong ball carrier,” he said. ”He’ll be sorely missed. I would have loved him to stay and build a stronger partnership with him.”
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.