Nanai-Williams still dreams of wearing black
Defence will be the key if Tim Nanai-Williams is to graduate to the black jersey later this year, and his coach is the perfect man to guide him.
If becoming an All Black isn't to be, the 25-year-old has a sound "Plan B" ready to go with Manu Samoa thanks to the already publicised sevens loophole.
The fullback is preparing for the 2014 national provincial premiership which kicks off on Thursday when his Counties Manukau team take on Taranaki in New Plymouth.
Counties are looking to build on an impressive 2013 season, which saw them finish fourth in the premiership, and boast a backline of Super Rugby quality.
Nanai-Williams is hoping to impress the All Blacks selectors during the season, and has been given some areas of his game to work on to make the step up.
"I had a yarn with [All Blacks management] mid-year this year, before the June tests," Nanai-Williams said.
"There were a few things they wanted me to do in my game. They want me to work really hard on my defence, and be more aggressive in the outside channels as well.
"If I'm playing wing, to see how I go out there with the real big guys, I've got to show them that I can be physical. I've got to push and take my game to the next level."
Size seems to be a factor in Nanai-Williams pushing for a chance at the highest level, and despite his smaller stature, he said it fuels him to be better.
"I've got to make sure I use every ounce of my body weight to be honest. People say I'm small, but that fuels me. I like to prove I'm better than bigger boys.
"I've got Tana [Umaga] here as well. He's one of the best defensive players we've probably seen in New Zealand, and he's really been helping me with that over the past couple of years.
"I probably couldn't be in a better place to be honest."
Nanai-Williams is one of a number of players able to make use of an IRB loophole allowing him to switch allegiance to Samoa.
Having represented New Zealand in sevens in 2008 and 2009, the loophole would allow Nanai-Williams to switch allegiance, play sevens for Samoa and then play for Samoa at the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
The Auckland-born back said his goal is firmly on winning an All Blacks jersey for now, but should he miss out on selection later this year, he will think about a possible switch to Samoa.
"I find it intriguing, that rule, but it's not something I have really thought about just yet," he said.
"My goal is still to make the All Blacks, and the end of year tour is definitely the target.
"If I don't make that, then I will probably take a closer look at playing for Samoa. I'd discuss it with my family. It just depends on the feedback and my chances of playing for New Zealand in the future," Nanai-Williams said.
- Waikato Times
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