When Bruce Springsteen penned the song Wrecking Ball a few years back he had in mind the impending demolition of Giants Stadium in his native New Jersey.
The Boss may not be aware of the particular talents of Tony Williams but, in the thick of the NRL semi-finals, the tune could easily be the theme to the Manly forward's career to date, so often does the title precede his name.
Williams, who at 118 kilograms and 192 centimetres is the prototype ''impact player'', catapulted to NSW and Australian selection and a hefty income on the basis of an ability to turn a game upside down with sheer force and speed.
Yet what the 23-year-old is rallying against is the connotation that to perform the role he must do it in short spurts, with limited game-time or from the bench. In almost all of Williams's 14 appearances for the premiers this year (his season was impeded by suspension and then injury) he has played for a full 80 minutes.
Manly coach Geoff Toovey plans to do exactly the same with his giant back-rower in Friday night's semi-final against North Queensland at Allianz Stadium, with both rejecting criticism he could be used more economically.
The Canterbury-bound Williams admits he has drifted in and out of matches when playing for their entirety - statistics published by the Herald last month showed he sometimes faded in second halves and could be inactive for significant periods of time. Now, with Manly's year on the line, he is intent upon obliterating any perception that he cannot go the distance.
He played a key part in Manly's tries in the first half of their defeat to his future club, the Bulldogs, last Friday, and is keen to prove he can extend that impact deeper into Friday's clash with the Cowboys.
''I've been going in and out of games and I guess the lack of games I've played this year has had an impact on that but I've got no excuses,'' Williams said. ''I just need to get in there and do my thing and play to the best of my ability.
''Personally, I reckon I can play a good 80 minutes. I guess I haven't showed it this year. Maybe in a couple games. Like I said, only I can control that and I know I can do it. I want to do it this weekend.''
Toovey steadfastly agrees, arguing he would be mad to field Williams in moderation when he can wreak such destruction.
''I think if you've got a player of Tony's ability you have him on the field as long as you can,'' Toovey said. ''Otherwise you miss those little opportunities that he created last week. If he's not on there he doesn't create them.''
The reality that Friday's match could be his last for the Sea Eagles is not lost on the former Parramatta junior. He will join former coach Des Hasler at the Bulldogs later this year, bringing to a close a wildly successful chapter of his career.
However, his mind is anywhere but at Belmore just yet. The rare opportunity to win back-to-back premierships is driving Williams to dream past Friday and beyond.
''I don't want it to be my last game here,'' Williams said. ''After that game against the Doggies I thought, 'This could be the last game, this weekend'. I'm going to try my best to go all the way.
''There are a couple of us leaving. I know that the other boys feel the same way. We want to go all the way ... do it for Manly before we leave.''
- Sydney Morning Herald
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