SOS: Sonny Bill Williams - All Black
Rugby

SOS: SBW – AB

SOS: SBW – AB

So Bro’ W

Save our souls, Sonny Boy Williams was launched on the international rugby stage today when he was named in the All Black touring party to Hong Kong and Europe.

Perhaps that’s what some of his future opponents might be thinking? This much anticipated selection, on both form and potential, is a thoroughly deserved choice bro’.

SBW is a class act – all athleticism, talent and menace – who looks entirely comfortable in his rugby skin and getting better with every outing.

The early disquiet amongst Kiwi rugby aficionados about his perceived ‘bigger than the game’ persona, exacerbated by his association with manager Koder Nasser and sidedick Anthony Mundine, has been thoroughly buried.

By all accounts, Sonny Bill has been a modest, unassuming and supportive bloke who hasn’t put a foot wrong since his arrival – ski trip notwithstanding.

The concern that he is only transiting New Zealand rugby and not in for the long haul may still be a worry but the thoughts are that his exposure to the All Black culture will win him over and have him wanting more.

Adding bulk to the All Black midfield might be a little like taking coals to Newcastle as not only do we have the 102kg Ma’a Nonu and the 108kg SBW, but Isaia Toeava at 100kg returns from a long injury layoff.

The much touted selection of SBW’s Canterbury centre partner Robbie Fruean has come to nought.

The 30 strong squad is made up of 16 forwards and 14 backs and is very conservative. There is only one new AB and that’s Williams.

One of the highlights is the return of former Queensland Reds flanker Daniel Braid as Richie McCaw’s backup. There was talk of a bolter – Matt Todd, a No. 7  from Canterbury – but it turned out to be another furphy.

Included on tour will be three hookers and three halfbacks: Hawkes Bay’s Hika ‘the Hooker’ Elliot is the backup to Keven Mealamu and Andrew Hore. Although John Afoa has slotted into hooker in a number of ITM matches he’s been selected solely as a prop.

Jimmy Cowan, Andy Ellis and Alby Mathewson are the halfbacks. Piri Weepu unluckily broke his ankle in Saturday’s Wellington v Taranaki match and couldn’t be considered.

Hosea Gear: back in black

There was no position for recent All Black first five eighth’s Aaron Cruden or Colin Slade with Stephen Donald being picked as support to Dan Carter.

Hosea Gear is back in black after a very impressive season which highlights the depth of New Zealand rugby. Sitiveni Sivivatu returns although he’s had no recent game time.

Unlucky players to miss out include Rene Ranger, Benson Stanley, Zac Guildford and Victor Vito.

Players not vailable due to injury are: Corey Flynn (calf), Ali Williams (Achilles), Israel Dagg (quadricep),  Richard Kahui (shoulder) and Luke McAlister (jaw).

This is the All Blacks third Grand Slam tour in six years.

2010 All Blacks Spring Touring Squad

NamePositionAgeClubCaps
John Afoa327Auckland25
Anthony Boric426North Harbour16
Daniel Braid729Auckland4
Tom Donnelly429Otago13
Hikawera Elliot224Hawkes Bay0
Ben Franks126Tasman7
Owen Franks322Canterbury17
Andrew Hore232Taranaki47
Jerome Kaino827Auckland33
Richie McCaw729Canterbury89
Keven Mealamu231Auckland80
Liam Messam626Waikato5
Kieran Read824Canterbury25
Brad Thorn435Canterbury46
Samuel Whitelock422Canterbury8
Tony Woodcock129North Harbour69
Andy Ellis926Canterbury14
Daniel Carter1028Canterbury74
Jimmy Cowan928Southland41
Stephen Donald1026Waikato19
Hosea Gear1126Wellington2
Cory Jane1127Wellington20
Alby Mathewson924Wellington1
Mils Muliaina1530Waikato89
Ma’a Nonu1228Wellington52
Josevata Rokocoko1127Auckland66
Sitiveni Sivivatu1128Waikato43
Conrad Smith1328Wellington41
Isaia Toeava1524Auckland26
Sonny Bill Williams1325Canterbury0

Itinerary:

30 Oct – All Blacks v Australia, Hong Kong
7 Nov – All Blacks v England, London
14 Nov – All Blacks v Scotland, Edinburgh
21 Nov – All Blacks v Ireland, Dublin
28 Nov – All Blacks v Wales, Cardiff

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  • Mothra

    I still recall Mortlock giving him a good welcome to rugby in the Aus V BaaBaaa game. Hopefully for him he’s improved since his stint to France.

  • Juan Cote

    I can’t believe they picked Toeava ahead of Fruean.

    SBW looks a bit dicey in defence when he has to move laterally I reckon and will get hammered in the North for shoulder charges…he put one on Tana yesterday that went un-punished and I’ve seen a few others.

    It seems whenever he has time to get set and line-up a runner he naturally goes with the shoulder

    Fuck he looks the business in attack however

  • Jason

    Still in awe of that fend in the Southland game. QC better watch out.

  • jay-c

    he is the goods>
    wont see him take nonus or smiths start but whist coming on in the second half he will do some damage
    the few games ive seen him in he walks the walk> great offload good fend and attracts defence
    mortlock and ashley coop the ony aussies id back to defend against him
    may be susceptible to our nippy backs’ footwork cause they sure as hell dont wanna run into him

    • Texman

      Hey Mahn,

      Look SBW is much better than Smith and will make a good pair with Nonu, Island Blood.

      Thanks.

  • Ben

    SBW has looked fantastic in attack…..I think Smiths days at 13 are numbered. If defensively SBW can tighten up a bit, he will be a revelation outside nonu and Carter. NoNu SBW center combination really is a troublsome thought for us Wallaby fans, especially against Giteau and ACC, who both tackle low which will leave SBW offload available to all.

    Going to be a really interesting NH tour for both Wallaby and AB’s

  • I’ve just installed a new table displaying tool, hopefully looks pretty good and you can re-sort it by clicking on the column headers.
    I also added the ages of the players, which were surprisingly omitted from the blecks press release… does seem to be an ageing squad

  • JTM

    So there is always talk about how much the All Blacks jersey is praised and valued above all else. And there is always talk about how the Wallabies can only dream about being that passionate.

    For the record, I’ll say here that the Wallabies are a very passionate team, and you can see as much in the body language of a few of the key individuals.

    But when was the last time the All Blacks blooded ten young blokes in a year, or even six or so on a Spring tour? Sonny Bill, despite all the hype, has certainly earnt his place on the team bus. It is an ageing squad but what about the fact that the AB selectors pick out a young bloke, then take their time with him and build him into a brilliant player. I’m talking about Reid, Kaino, the Franks. They’ll do the same to Sonny Bill no doubt.

    Why give Kingi experience in the Wallabies environment last year, make him sign an agreement to the list of things he must achieve over the year to get on this tour, watch him complete this agreement, and then pick some other young bloke?? If Kingi isn’t up to it then why pick him last year?

    Think of all the Wallabies Deans has blooded over the last few years and think just how many will be true international prospects well into the future.

    • Garry

      @JTM,
      “Think of all the Wallabies Deans has blooded over the last few years”
       
      I’m thinking of the missed opportunities to blood new prospects, whilst Dingo persisted with under performing players. Most that were introduced earned their place by playing exceptionally well during the S14, and to leave them out would have caused an out-cry.
       
      We’ve got a young team coming through with untapped potential, but let’s not forget the pain that the Deans regime has caused?

  • Pete

    I don’t call that an ageing squad, especially under a year out from the RWC. Only 4 blokes are over 30, 3 of whom are tight forwards and Thorn, Mils and Mealamu are in the form of their lives.

  • Pete

    Also Hika Elliot (who I know nothing about) is not on that table. Although I am viewing this on a phone so could be a formatting gremlin.

    • Lance Free

      You’re right Pete. Hika was on the original table but has fallen off during the update. We’ll reinstate him – he’s a deserved selection, although there was a fair bit of support for Jason Rutledge from Southland.

  • Langthorne

    That is a strong squad, and that Sonny Bill is a fine figure of a man (tattoo notwithstanding). The list of guys out through injury or left behind has some great (rugby) talent too.

  • dobduff11

    Sonny Bill for world player of the year!! lol

    Great player but nonu is the in form centre in world rugby at the moment and I doubt he will displace him unless SBW plays test rugby like he plays ITm cup rugby

  • Groucho

    Everybody loves a Mungo…. for a while.

    Money Bill is certainly tearing up in the NPC, something he failed to quite do for Toulon. Has he suddenly sprouted wings? Does a diet of porridge and Steinlager do more for his dark Kiwi soul than Bouillabaisse? Or is the NPC, dare we say, just a wee bit less intense than T14?

    Great potential, certainly. Great player?

    Let’s have our first look at him in representative footy first please.

    And if he should miss a crucial tackle in a test, or get carded for a shoulder charge, watch the black knives come out across the Tasman.

    • Epi

      WTF are you talking about?  Did you watch the Top 14?  ‘Money’ Bill was the form centre of the comp in hes second year?

      http://www.espnscrum.com/francetop14-2010-11/rugby/story/124432.html

      Some to the anti ‘mungo’ sentiment around here is mindless.  When does a player stop being a mungo?  The reality is that some of the best players the world has seen played both codes some at the same time and some started in league.  Umaga was a league player before he ever played rugby and was signed with the NRL – everyone still loves him don’t they?

    • Steve

      Quote “Money Bill is certainly tearing up in the NPC, something he failed to quite do for Toulon.”
      He was named in the French Top14 Dream team this year.

  • piggies7

    ROBBIE FRUEAN, YOU ALL BLACK SELECTING FOOLS!
    What a shame he didn’t get in…ah well, he will be in the next World Cup. The selection of Hika Elliot is much better then picking three over 30 hookers. I guess Hika and Robbie couldn’t both get the nod, it’d be too good to be true.

    • reggie

      yeah i dont get it either, Robbie Fruen was easily the best player in the ITM cup. How sonny bill got selected ahead of him i cant understand.

  • Robson

    I don’t see SBW displacing Ma’a Nonu any time soon, but it will keep Ma’a on his toes.  The incumbent No. 12 has a long pedigree of quality performances for the ABs and SBW has really not been tested in the role.  A handful of appearances in NPC matches aren’t, in my opinion, enough to push out Nonu yet.  With Toeava back in the frame again I don’t see SBW getting a starting role on tour either, but he will most certainly be used off the bench.

    Whether SBW gets to wear the silver fern in a RWC quarter final, semi final or the final match itself depends on a lot of stars falling into alignment at the same time.  Assuming, of course, that the ABs make the finals this time around.  That is never guaranteed for the ABs, but I think they will be anxious to put those “choker” demons to rest – especially in front of a home crowd.  It’s for that reason that I think the ABs are going to be especially dangerous at the 2011 RWC.  SB might fit exactly into the mould then. 

    Personally I am sick and tired of the advertorial, editorial, tv and general media beat up about him.  He’s had a lot more air time before becoming an All Black than Jonah Lomu had after becoming an AB.  Well at least for a while after Jonah became an AB.

      

        

  • MJ

    Look how much airtime Quade Cooper got when it became apparent he was sticking to Union for the World Cup. And how about KB – so much attention for just one kick (and ultimately saving himself from untold embarrasment given how he’d played the rest of the game).

    NZ has hardly made much noise about any one player this year. Maybe Aaron Cruden, but naturally anyone taking the reigns from Carter was going to get it.

    SBW is worth getting excited about. He’s been the star playmaker of the ITM and has made what is normally a ho hum tournament exciting. He’s also a helluva team player and I think that the AB jersey is going to elevate him into a an absolute beast on the field. We’ll only see his true worth once he’s played against the other elite teams of the SH triumvirate, but boy I can’t wait to see it… 

  • jay-c

    “moneybill”
    – i dig~

  • Bear

    How is the NPC – ITM a ho hum comp? This competition is what Aust is desperately missing. It is the major foundation of what has made NZ rugby great. The ABs all have to come through the NPC and they dominate world rugby.

    As for SBW he has shown all the attributes that should make him a great AB. He has been learning very quickly for two years and continues to learn. Imagine what he will be like once the AB coaches have had him in their system for a few months.

    SBW won’t replace Nonu unless Nonu gets injured. More than likely SBW will surplant Smith at some stage so the 3 wise men can see him and Nonu go to work together. I think there will be a few Aussie mid-fielders getting very worried about that possibility.

  • You can guarentee SBW will make a game winning play against the Wallabies, probably in the last minute of a Bledisloe and its really really going to suck when it happens.

  • Jay

    Ma’a Nonu is a bit bigger than 102kg. More like 112. 

    • Lance Free

      The figure I quoted is from the 2010 Wellington Hurricanes Super 14 Media Guide so you’d think it would be fairly accurate? The AB one says he’s 104kg. Maybe he fluctuates?

      • Steve

        He is also just under 6 Foot compared to Sonny Bill’s 6’3″

  • sesenta y cuatro

    Hika Elliot is a gifted hooker from Hawke’s Bay. He was the starting hooker for the Chiefs in 2008 but ferocious form by Aled de Malmanche in 2009 and injuries prevented him from establishing himself as a reference.

    Currently, in NZ there are two hookers who are above the rest (when fit) and these are Mealamu and Hore. 2009 and 2010 have seen the raise of Rutledge both with Southland and the Highlanders but he’s clearly not seen as an international option since de Malmanche, Flynn and Elliot have been prefered.

    Regarding hookers, I’d like to mention the name of Ti’i Paulo, who had an outstanding campaing with the Crusaders in 2009 and even a better one in 2010 but he’s gone to France, I think. In 2010 Paulo was the next best thing to hook in NZ after Andrew Hore (no, there’s no w missing). When Hore got his injury, Paulo was the best of the remaining hookers. Mealamu included.

  • Can I ask if you happen to be from Queensland? You actually sound like an Ozzie :0)

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@@LanceFree

Roscoe Tims (aka @LanceFree): A nasty, opinionated little man whose views are indeed narrow with a capital 'N'. Favourite Sport: mungo bashing. Does he ever have anything positive to say?

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