Sonny Bill Williams 'disappointed' with effort

RICHARD KNOWLER
Last updated 08:33 07/11/2010

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He may have helped set-up Hosea Gear's try with a trademark offload, yet All Blacks debutant Sonny Bill Williams refused to flip cartwheels about his performance in his test debut at Twickenham this morning.

The massive centre gave the international rugby world an early glimpse of his abilities in the 15-man game when he unravelled one long arm to put Mils Muliaina in space during a movement that led to Gear scoring in the 26-16 win over England.

But the 25-year-old admonished himself for not being involved more, especially as the pace of the game began to eat into his fitness levels.

"I was disappointed in my own performance and there are a lot of things I can improve on,'' he reflected.

"But it is just like when I came back and started in New Zealand; hopefully it will be like a snowball effect where I get a bit more game time and express myself a lot more.

"The fitness levels will definitely be a bit better in the next couple of weeks if I get a bit of game time and inject myself a lot more.''

The 25-year-old may have been harsh on himself, but head coach Graham Henry will unlikely have been left wondering if he had bought a dud in the former Kiwis rugby league international.

Henry now has to decide whether to start Williams alongside Ma'a Nonu in the midfield against Scotland in Edinburgh next weekend or bring Conrad Smith back into the side after resting him to allow the experienced No 13 to rest a strained hamstring.

For his part, Henry refused to raise expectations that the huge pair will be teamed-up in the midfield again next week.

"I think the jury is still out on that - Sonny will be a better player for the experience,'' Henry said.

"He did break the line a couple of times. I don't think he's entirely happy with his game, but that's probably what you expect after your first game in front of 82,000 at Twickenham. I'm pretty happy with what he did."

Now all Williams can do is wait.

"I just hope to get a bit more game time and improve on that performance. But in the next couple of hours I am just going to sit back and be proud of myself for accomplishing what I said I would do at the start.''

Despite England making a late run at the All Blacks, especially when Jerome Kaino had been yellow carded with eight minutes remaining, Williams said he was confident having experienced players such as Nonu and Dan Carter around him would ensure they emerged unscathed.

"When you are playing alongside some of the best players in the world and you know that they have got your back, you don't want to let them down more than anything. You just try to cover when you can and just work hard, bro.''

When lining up for the haka, which was drowned out by around 80,000 fans singing "Sing Low, Sweet Chariot'', Williams stood near the back and admitted there had been a surge of emotions as he lined up for the national anthems.

"I was just thinking about the time when this team was so far away, just being out there it was all sinking in.

"I didn't want to let my family, you know, the ones dear to me down - and the people that gave me this opportunity.''

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- Fairfax Media

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