Sonny Bill Williams credits Foran for his form
DAVID LONG IN MANCHESTER
Sonny Bill Williams believes he is playing better in the World Cup than he did this season for the Sydney Roosters and has praised room-mate Kieran Foran for helping him to take his game to another level.
Williams, who spearheaded the Roosters to the minor premiership and grand final double in his first season back after five years of playing union, said the competitiveness of the Manly five-eighth had pushed him to work even harder at training and in games.
"Kieran has given me that hunger that I probably used to have when I was at the Bulldogs," Williams said.
"As I have gotten older I have gone more into the scientific aspect of footy where you need to rest your body or you need to do this or you need to do that but he has taken me back to that old school mentality where you just go hard.
"I think it's the Manly way - they don't hold back, they just rip in and go hard no matter what."
Williams' workrate in last weekend's epic 20-18 defeat of England was phenomenal, with the 28-year-old former All Blacks star making 150 metres from 19 runs with the ball and a team-high 36 tackles.
He was also outstanding in the Kiwis' defeat of Papua New Guinea earlier in the tournament but lasted just 33 minutes in the quarterfinal against Scotland before succumbing to a neck injury.
"I think Kieran is the reason I have been playing such good footy in this tournament," Williams said. "I feel like I have taken it up to another level in this World Cup and instead of just being able to pace myself, I can go to a level and just keep going.
"With his attitude towards life and his attitude towards footy, me and him have got on like a house on fire.
"We are pretty much in each other's pockets and we don't leave each other's sides but that is because we get the best out of each other in a footy sense."
Foran, who has captained New Zealand twice at just 23 years of age, has taken on the responsibility of directing the team around on the field so halfback Shaun Johnson can concentrate on his own game.
However, he still produced a cross-field bomb which almost secured victory in the 75th minute for the Kiwis after Williams flew high for the ball but could not hold it.
Johnson then scored with 20 seconds remaining to break England's hearts after George Burgess had been penalised for a high shot on Williams during his third run of the previous set of tackles.
Williams said playing with Foran was similar to playing with Roosters halfback Mitchell Pearce, who coincidentally grew up playing alongside Foran and remains close friends with him.
"Kieran is a special talent and I don't think he gets the accolades he deserves."
He is probably not the flashiest player but to me he is a bit like Junior, they just give their all.
"Foz probably wouldn't want me saying this but Pearcey has probably got a little bit more to him than Foz - but Foz won't stop. He won't give an inch and he is as stubborn as I am and I think that has rubbed off on me."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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