Haka leaves Sonny Bill in tears
New Zealand's Sonny Bill Williams is humbled by his teammates after being crowned the Rugby League International Federation player of the year.PT4M43S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-2yfqq 620 349 November 29, 2013
AUCKLAND: Benji Marshall describes former Kiwis teammate Sonny Bill Williams as the most intimidating opponent in the game and the key to New Zealand completing a successful defence of their Rugby League World Cup title.
Williams has been crowned Rugby League International Federation player of the year, three days out from the final between New Zealand and Australia in Manchester.
After five years in rugby, in which he played 19 Tests for the All Blacks, Williams returned to league in 2013 and helped the Sydney Roosters to the NRL title.
Intimidating: Sonny Bill Williams. Photo: Getty Images
Marshall, who is making the reverse move from league to rugby, was attending the first day of pre-season training with the Blues on Thursday when news came through about Williams' award and he said it was well warranted.
"He's probably the most intimidating player to play against," Marshall said.
"He deserves it, the way he - the first year back in league - guided the Roosters to a title and for what he has done for the Kiwis as well.
"I think he's our key to winning the World Cup."
Marshall's switch of codes came after 11 seasons with Wests Tigers and 27 Tests for the Kiwis.
Like most New Zealand fans, the 28-year-old had "a bit of a heart attack" during the semi-final thriller against England, which the Kiwis won via a Shaun Johnson try with just 20 seconds to go.
He rated the Kiwis as "a big chance" to get past the Kangaroos at Old Trafford, believing the conditions would suit them better, but they would have to dominate the battle in the ruck.
"If we control the play-the-ball speed and not give their halves as much opportunities, and if we get quick play-the-balls, guys like Issac Luke - who I think has probably been the player of the tournament so far - will take advantage, and we've got Shaun and Sonny on the back of that."