Proctor ready to step into Sonny Bill's shoes

CHRIS BARCLAY
Last updated 05:00 19/04/2013
Kevin Proctor
BIG SHOES: Kevin Proctor is Sonny Bill Williams' replacement in the Kiwis.

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The hairstyle is already proof Kevin Proctor is not attempting to disguise himself as Sonny Bill Williams, and the Kiwis fall back option insists he is very much his own man leading into an ominous Anzac test assignment in Canberra tonight.

Just three games back from a knee injury that delayed him joining the Melbourne Storm's premiership defence, the 24-year-old from Te Kuiti has found himself in unenviable position of covering Jeremy Smith - and then replacing Sonny Bill Williams in the starting pack.

Proctor was called into the Kiwis squad by assistant coach Tony Iro when it became apparent Smith was destined for suspension after his a dangerous tackle on a Penrith Panthers opponent Saturday night.

When Smith left the squad on Monday, Proctor was upgraded to the 17 and then positioned on the right edge - the place reserved for Williams until his Kiwis comeback was stymied by a knee injury.

Proctor only made his test debut in the last trans-Tasman test at Townsville last October but was unfazed at the prospect of standing in for Smith, an established enforcer, and Williams, the cross-code superstar.

"Yeah, I've got some big shoes to fill but I haven't really looked at it that way," he said.

"I reckon it's just a good opportunity. I know I wasn't the first one picked."

Though domiciled in an AFL heartland, Proctor has not been able to avoid the hype generated by the former All Blacks return to the code where he made his name.

"I've been watching him, you can't really miss him, he always on TV," Proctor smiled, before turning serious.

"Look, I'm not going to try and be Sonny Bill or anyone else. I don't have to do his offloads or throw the cut out passes he does.

"All I need is to do my job" the description of which reads: "Tough defence on the edge, go forward. Just be strong in D, run hard, run the right lines, right holes and get my timing and that right.

"I'll keep talking to the boys in the middle and get them going with the wrestle."

Slowing down the play-the-ball shapes as a priority to impede what can be a fee-flowing Kangaroos offence - an axis revolving around his club mates Billy Slater, Cooper Cronk and Cameron Smith.

Proctor has been in the Storm system for six years so has an intimate knowledge of how the Kangaroos and

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Queensland triumvirate operate - not that he's been able to offer and hard and fast solutions on how the thwart them.

"There's not too many weaknesses I can point out," he admitted.

"I reckon it all starts with Cameron. He'll give them good ball from the quick play-the-ball.

"We've got to try and slow down the play the ball in the middle.

"Hopefully our boys wrestle well."

That said, even if Smith is harassed and the Kiwis aren't heavily penalised as a consequence, Proctor was stating the obvious when identifying other threats to an under strength line-up.

"They've got everything, they've got Thurston there too, he's really dangerous too, GI [Greg Inglis] .... they've got superstars through the team."

However, Proctor, who missed February's World Club Challenge with Leeds after straining knee ligaments two days before the flight to the UK, was confident he could add a special experience to last year's Grand Final victory over the Bulldogs.

"I reckon we've got the boys to do it," he said.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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