Sonny Bill Williams holds out for final high
EVAN PEGDEN AND DAVID LONG
Sonny Bill Williams says the emotions flying around the Chiefs team when they won their Super Rugby semifinal last Friday night were the greatest he had experienced.
But the man who has played in Rugby World Cup, Super Rugby and NRL finals before says this week he has to blank out the emotion of playing for the Chiefs for the last time as he prepares for the final or it will wreck that preparation.
"This is definitely right up there - probably the biggest," Williams said of how this Saturday night's home final against the Sharks at Waikato Stadium rated in his career.
"I've said it earlier in the year - I've played in a lot of teams but I guess the emotions I feel playing with the boys, especially after last week's win, are probably second to none. So, hopefully, we do win this week and this will definitely be right up there."
But because it is also his last match for the Chiefs before taking up a short-term playing contract in Japan and then heading to the NRL next year, Williams has extra emotions to cope with and he said the fact the Chiefs had become a close-knit "brotherhood" made it even harder.
If he dwelled on the emotions of his last game and that it was the final it would swamp him.
"They tend to eat you up and next thing you know you'll be sitting at home awake at night not being able to sleep so you've just got to push it all to one side and hopefully when the final hooter comes you can let it all out."
One thing in Williams' favour is that he finds the buildup to Super Rugby finals relatively low-key compared with an NRL final in Sydney.
"Last year with the Crusaders and this year as well; like there's been a few extra media people here but it's nowhere near as big a buildup as for an NRL grand final.
"It's pretty low-key and I think that's a good thing, especially for the boys here. The Sharks are in tremendous form, playing some superb footy, and we're going to have to play better than we did last week, so it's a big ask, but I'm confident we can do it."
Once the final is out of the way, Williams confirmed that he would be available for the All Blacks in their two upcoming Bledisloe Cup clashes with Australia. The All Blacks will be without injured centre Conrad Smith and Williams had no hesitation in accepting Steve Hansen's request that he delay his move to Japan until after the Wallabies clashes.
"I just had a quick chat with Steve and he told me about their situation. I said, of course I'd love to [play] if all the things are right on the Japanese front and it's worked out well.
"But that's probably the only time I've talked about it.
"You guys [the media] have made a big deal about it, but for me, my heart, soul and mind is definitely with the Chiefs. One more week and then I'll worry about that."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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