Ali Williams wants to lead by deeds, not words
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Ali Williams has no rousing game-day speech penned to work his Blues into a lather. He might speak to his men, he might not. Deeds, not words, are what count now.
Williams' tenure as captain of Sir John Kirwan's new-look Blues officially gets underway tonight against the Hurricanes, and it's fair to say Comical Ali is already well on the way to becoming Clinical Ali.
That's the sort of transformation Williams is ready to make as he assumes a responsibility that has energised and enthused him, but also made him think long and hard about some intrinsic aspects of the game.
As on-field leader of a Blues squad making some pretty serious changes, he understands his trademark fun and frivolity has to be replaced by a steely resolve and unerring attitude.
It's time for this 31-year-old, 77-test second-rower to morph from the joker to the ace in the pack.
"I don't plan speeches," he says when asked about his oratory intentions for tonight. "If I plan them I sound like a moron . . . I don't know how much you need to speak on game day. You more worry about yourself, because every good captain is a person who leads from the front rather than talks his leadership."
Williams has said enough all week around getting his men mentally prepared and focused on the challenge they face tonight.
"I'm not going to get it right the whole time but I'll learn and I've got some pretty good people around me who are going to help in those areas," he says.
Kirwan has said all along that he believes the captaincy will be the making of Williams who's in the twilight of his career and looking to work back up the national pecking order.
"He's been outstanding, and has really stepped into the role" says Kirwan. "It's been easy for me because he is really driving the culture through and doing a great job. The most important thing now for all our leaders is that they put it on the paddock.
"They have to be our best players."
Williams is enjoying the challenge at this stage of his career.
"A lot of times it's not about you when it comes to leading. It's about making sure you're getting the best out of everyone. The key thing I'm working with is you've got to find solutions not problems as the leader."
Solutions not problems. Line this up alongside Kirwan's "better never stops" and "many cultures, one winning culture" and you get a feel for the new Blues way that's all about positive reinforcement.
"They're just simple messages, cornerstones of what we stand for," remarks Williams. "And the good thing is it's not coming from one person. Everyone has bought into that these are the things we want to start driving."
Williams says he's relaxed and excited about restoring some pride to the Blues region with a new generation of players. "It's easier because a) they want to absorb a lot more and b) they're willing to follow what someone else is doing. It's much harder for an old dog to learn new tricks."
As for the Canes, Williams concedes they're in a place now where his team wants to be. They've rebuilt, grown and are now exceedingly dangerous.
"They're a great outfit. If they get fast ball they're very dangerous, and with their set piece they're a very equipped team and can hurt us all over the field. It's going to be good fun."
Time to let actions speak louder than words.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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