Sonny Bill Williams: The Talent Will Just Keep On Coming
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Sonny Bill Williams has no doubt that New Zealand’s enviable talent production line will continue to roll as the All Blacks begin life without some of their World Cup-winning stars.
Dan Carter, Ma’a Nonu and Conrad Smith are all heading to France on lucrative club deals, while captain Richie McCaw remains the subject of intense speculation that he will soon call time on his stellar 148-cap Test career.
Williams, though, believes the back-to-back world champions are in a rude state of health, with their latest Webb Ellis Cup triumph seeing previously unheralded prospects like Nehe Milner-Skudder, who scored six tries in the tournament, Malakai Fekitoa and Sam Cane among those given opportunities.
“They are legends in their own right,” Williams said of the departing players. “Us boys knew that we had a job to do to see those fellas off as winners.
“But you ask all the New Zealand media, and they will tell you that the talent in New Zealand is crazy. We will just have to wait and see who the new names are, but those guys are going to be special again.
“This [winning the World Cup again] would have to be the biggest accomplishment. The quality of players is second to none.
Sonny Bill Williams was a second-half replacement as New Zealand beat Australia at Twickenham. David Rogers/Getty Images
“I am happy to be a part of something that hasn’t been done before. Back-to-back world champions is awesome, but winning a World Cup in the northern hemisphere is really special.”
Williams, whose contributions off the bench proved a key part of New Zealand’s success, also paid a glowing tribute to All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen.
“He just relates to everyone,” Williams added. “He is the funny guy, but then again he is the serious man, and he’s got the respect of the group.
“For myself, he’s just a coach that I want to play for, and I am pretty sure most of the boys feel the same way. When you are playing for your coach and for your brothers it brings out special performances.”
Williams proved to be the post-match centre of attention at Twickenham when he presented his World Cup winner’s medal to a young fan tackled by security guards when trying to celebrate with the All Blacks after they had beaten Australia 34-17.
All Blacks supporter Charlie Lines tried to race on to the pitch to celebrate with his heroes, only to be accosted by stewards. Williams was then pictured meeting the boy and draping his winner’s medal around the youngster’s neck.