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SBW not worried by Bledisloe attention

Date

Duncan Johnstone

Back in Sydney ... Sonny Bill Williams.

Back in Sydney ... Sonny Bill Williams.

Auckland: All Blacks star Sonny Bill Williams says he is braced for the attention that's sure to come when he plays in Sydney this weekend for the first time since 2009.

Williams left for Sydney this afternoon with the All Blacks to play Saturday night's Bledisloe Cup Test against the Wallabies at the massive ANZ Stadium with a crowd of around 80,000 expected.

The All Blacks have their captain's run at the stadium tomorrow, just a few hours before the Bulldogs, the team Williams walked out on in 2008, play the Wests Tigers a few hours later at the same venue.

The microscope will surely fall on Williams this weekend, especially with his highly anticipated return to the NRL ranks next season.

He hasn't played Super Rugby in Sydney with either the Crusaders last year or the title-winning Chiefs this season. He did play for the the Barbarians against the Wallabies at the Sydney Football Stadium in 2009.

“I haven't really thought about it to be honest. Maybe there will be a bit more spotlight on me because of that,” Williams said when asked about the extra focus that was about to come his way with Bulldogs fans having long memories over this polarising figure.

“It doesn't really faze me. I just get on with it. I'll just work on my routine that has worked for me all year … tick all the boxes and not worry about outside things.

“I get it where ever I go … it just comes with the territory.”

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen suggested the match was bigger than the individual, though he did admit Williams was a bit “special”.

“Yeah there will be a little bit more interest [in Williams] because of the league side of the media,” Hansen said.

“He is a special athlete so he probably deserves a bit more interest.

“But rugby is a sport and the Bledisloe Cup itself is quite massive. The game itself is of big interest. Australia have pumped up the Bledisloe Cup all week. I don't think it will come down to Sonny Bill playing or not. It will come down to if the two teams can do justice to the occasion.”

Williams said he was thrilled to have the chance to wind up his time in New Zealand rugby with a chance to play for the All Blacks over the next two weekends. A specially arranged two-week contract between the New Zealand Rugby Union and his new his Japanese club the Panasonic Wild Knights has freed up the World Cup winner to add to his 17 tests before he shifts to Asia on a 12-match deal.

“I thought the dream was over,” he said of playing for the All Blacks again.

He reiterated he was happy to answer the SOS call from Hansen when Conrad Smith was taken out of the equation for the two Bledisloe Cup Test because of eye surgery.

“I jumped at that chance straight away … anything I can do to help … even just come in and run drills against the boys or play … I was more than willing to help.

“I have had a great season with the Chiefs and that chapter is closed. Hopefully I finish my time in New Zealand with something special in the next two Tests.”

Williams has never started a test against Australia, making two short appearances against the Wallabies last year off the bench – the Bledisloe Cup clincher and World Cup semifinal, both at Auckland's Eden Park.

Williams said his combination with centre Ma'a Nonu had worked smoothly in training as the All Blacks field a massive midfield pairing this weekend.

“I've just got to pass him the ball,” laughed Williams.

Fairfax NZ

Rugby Internationals 2014

Round 1
Sat, 07 JunTimes shown AEST
SAM 18 vs TGA 18 Report Stats
FJI 25 vs ITA 14 Report Stats
NZL 20 vs ENG 15 Report Stats
AUS 50 vs FRA 23 Report Stats
Sun, 08 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 47 vs WXV 13 Report Stats
ARG 17 vs IRE 29 Report Stats
USA 6 vs SCO 24 Report Stats
CAN 25 vs JPN 34 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Sat, 14 JunTimes shown AEST
SAM 15 vs ITA Report Stats
FJI 45 vs TGA 17 Report Stats
NZL 28 vs ENG 27 Report Stats
AUS 6 vs FRA Report Stats
Sun, 15 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 38 vs WAL 16 Report Stats
CAN 17 vs SCO 19 Report Stats
ARG 17 vs IRE 23 Report Stats
USA 29 vs JPN 37 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 3
Sat, 21 JunTimes shown AEST
ARG 19 vs SCO 21 Report Stats
FJI 13 vs SAM 18 Report Stats
JPN 26 vs ITA 23 Report Stats
AUS 39 vs FRA 13 Stats
NZL 36 vs ENG 13 Report Stats
Sun, 22 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 31 vs WAL 30 Report Stats
USA 38 vs CAN 35 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 4
Sun, 29 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 55 vs SCO 6 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 5
Sun, 02 NovTimes shown AEDT
BAR 36 vs AUS 40 Report Stats
USA 6 vs NZL 74 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 6
Sun, 09 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA 24 vs SAM 13 Report Stats
ENG 21 vs NZL 24 Report Stats
WAL 28 vs AUS 33 Report Stats
FRA 40 vs FJI 14 Report Stats
IRE 29 vs RSA 15 Report Stats
SCO 41 vs ARG 31 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 7
Sun, 16 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA 18 vs ARG 20 Report Stats
ENG 28 vs RSA 31 Report Stats
WAL 17 vs FJI 13 Report Stats
SCO 16 vs NZL 24 Report Stats
FRA 29 vs AUS 26 Report Stats
Mon, 17 NovTimes shown AEDT
IRE 49 vs GEO 7 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 8
Sun, 23 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA 6 vs RSA 22 Report Stats
SCO 37 vs TGA 12 Report Stats
IRE 26 vs AUS 23 Report Stats
WAL 16 vs NZL 34 Report Stats
ENG 28 vs SAM 9 Report Stats
FRA 13 vs ARG 18 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 9
Sun, 30 NovTimes shown AEDT
ENG 26 vs AUS 17 Report Stats
WAL 12 vs RSA 6 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
 
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