Ali Williams wants to bed in his captaincy of the Blues at the expense of the extended break afforded to him by his All Blacks status.
The 31-year-old, 77-test veteran was yesterday named as the Blues' new captain.
It's his first captaincy assignment since leading the Auckland under-19s and he's keen to get stuck in, even if it means coming into camp early after being part of the just-completed end of season tour by the All Blacks.
"I'll talk through that with the All Blacks and the Blues," Williams said yesterday.
"But I want to be here, I want to get to know these guys. I don't want to come back cold turkey, I want to get a feel for it.
"I'm going to be floating around, though in terms of dates, I'm not 100 per cent sure."
Williams acknowledged he'd had a light work load through the second half of this year as he recovered from knee surgery and he was keen to get stuck in as he takes over the captain's role from Keven Mealamu who has been granted an extended offseason.
The responsibility should invigorate the lanky lock who has had a dogged few years battling double Achilles ruptures to become a World Cup winner.
"It's an exciting step for me. It's late in my career but that just means I've been around for a long time. I've still got a lot left."
Williams, known as a prankster, said he doubted the captaincy would change his personality, though he knew when to "flick the switch".
"I'm still going to have fun. I'm still going to enjoy what I do. There is a time to switch on and a time to switch off.
"Perception maybe is a reality and the reality is I do enjoy myself and have a bit of a joke. But when I step on that field, I'm 100 per cent committed to the team that I play for."
Williams revealed he had quizzed Richie McCaw about taking this step but said he was unsure what style he would take.
"I've got a pretty good mate who is a pretty good captain. I've spoken to him but I'm not going to model myself on anyone. I'll find my own style and find what suits this team best.
"I've done my leadership internally, I just haven't had a C next to my name. Will it make a difference? I don't think so.
"Great captains do a lot more work during the week than they do on game day. I'm going to learn, I'm going to need help, I'm not going to get everything but I tell you what, I'll give it 100 per cent."
He would look to Mealamu for help.
"It's not about me pushing him aside, it's about us working together. We've rowed the boat together a long time."
Blues coach John Kirwan said William's experience and passion for the franchise made him "an obvious choice".
He was not worried by the perception of Williams being "Comical Ali". Internally there was huge admiration and respect for him.
The Blues started their preseason work yesterday with meetings and some fitness work followed by a barbeque with families. All of their All Blacks turned up for this.
"There are 18 new faces, it was a bit of am meet and greet to be honest," Williams said, excited by the new wave of talent selected to try to resurrect the once-proud franchise.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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