Rugby Union

Brumbies look to cut Chiefs star Sonny Bill Williams down to size

Sonny Bill Williams is one of the biggest names in  sport, but the ACT Brumbies have hatched a plan to cut him down to size and are backing their inside backs to do the job.

Williams made a promising return to Super Rugby for the Waikato Chiefs on Saturday, after a brief stint in the NRL, and the Brumbies know what he's capable of against them at  New Plymouth on Friday night.

Brumby Matt Toomua will have his hands full trying to stop Sonny Bill Williams.
Brumby Matt Toomua will have his hands full trying to stop Sonny Bill Williams. Photo: Rohan Thomson

Brumbies forwards coach Dan McKellar said there were no plans for any of the forwards to specifically target the No.12 and he backed Matt Toomua, Christian Lealiifano and Tevita Kuridrani to handle the defensive duties against the codehopper.

"We've got to shut down his time and space, we've got to get him on the ground," McKellar said.

Sonny Bill Williams starred in his first game back for the Chiefs last week.
Sonny Bill Williams starred in his first game back for the Chiefs last week. Photo: Getty Images

"He's a tall guy, our plan will be to chop him, just good aggressive low tackles and make sure we've got good connection on the outside and good connection on the inside because he will offload."

Contact coach Peter Ryan, the first player to play both NRL and Super Rugby, has brought a harder edge to the Brumbies' defence.

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That's why former Brumbies coach Eddie Jones brought him to Canberra as a player and also why current Brumbies coach Steve Larkham brought him to the ACT as an assistant coach.

McKellar said Ryan also doubled as the waterboy - so he can keep an eye on their intensity close up.

Brumbies prop Scott Sio said it was up to whoever was in front of Williams to bring him down, rather than anyone in ...
Brumbies prop Scott Sio said it was up to whoever was in front of Williams to bring him down, rather than anyone in particular responsible for keeping the off-load machine quiet. Photo: Rohan Thomson

"He brings that rugby league mentality. I've got a lot of respect for rugby league as a game and he's aggressive, he's honest as a coach and he's not afraid to tell guys how it is," he said.

"He's just brought that mentality of not being passive, you want to be aggressive and he talks about being in control as well.

"It's great having him running water; he'll be able to pass on those messages during a game."

Brumbies prop Scott Sio said it was up to whoever was in front of Williams to bring him down, rather than anyone in particular responsible for keeping the off-load machine quiet.

He also backed his inside backs to get the job done, saying they all had individual defensive qualities that would stand them in good stead when they were the ones faced with an oncoming Chiefs inside centre.

"You haven't had a more dominant defender than Tevita Kuridrani over the years and a guy with such smarts as Christian Lealiifano, then you put Matt Toomua in the mix, who can pull a hit-off at any time in the game – you can rest pretty easy there," Sio said.

"[Williams] has that flair and it's going to come down to whoever's opposite him to do the job." 

Sio is facing a tough task of his own – packing down against man mountain Ben Tameifuna.

He was looking forward to the challenge, a challenge he's enjoyed since he was a schoolboy.

The 184-centimetre, 137-kilogram tighthead is one of a number of players coming back into the Chiefs line-up, along with All Blacks Liam Messam, Brodie Retallick and Aaron Cruden.

"I played against him since 2009, schoolboys, we've had a few good battles over the years and I look forward to it again," Sio said.

"He's played some great rugby the last few years for the Chiefs, obviously winning the two championships with them, so it's always a big test against him."

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Friday: ACT Brumbies v Waikato Chiefs at New Plymouth, 7.35pm