Williams puts the All Blacks in jovial mood

(Rugby News Service) Monday 12 September 2011
Williams puts the All Blacks in jovial mood
Sonny Bill Williams has endured some ribbing from teammates

HAMILTON, 12 Sept. - Competition for a starting spot in the All Blacks team is fierce, but the New Zealand camp is in high spirits ahead of their Rugby World Cup 2011 match against Japan on Friday.

The New Zealanders' upbeat attitude was demonstrated at a press conference at the team's hotel in Hamilton on Monday by centre Sonny Bill Williams and prop Ben Franks.

When Williams was asked about changing his ripped shirt in the match against Tonga on Friday, he admitted some teammates thought he might have done it deliberately.

"I could hear the boys giving me a hard time, more so Benny Franks. I think he's a little jealous," Williams said.

"Benny's trying to take me under his wing a bit. He reckons I'm all show, no go.

"Hopefully in the next couple of weeks I can prove him wrong."

Not the first time 

Franks, who was sitting alongside Williams, said it was not the first time he had seen his charismatic teammate topless.

"Every day he rings me up in the morning and asks me to come in and help him put his jersey on," he said.

Williams plans to auction his All Black jersey with proceeds going to the Violet Foundation, an Australian charity working to help treat meningococcal disease.

"To give some money back to them is good," he said. "Hopefully it raises a fair bit."

The All Blacks' 41-10 victory over Tonga was Williams' first World Cup match and he was thrilled by the occasion.

"It was really exciting to be part of it. It was such a big build-up for myself and my own journey," he said.

"It was something I really wanted to be part of. It was great to play for the All Blacks in a World Cup and achieve the dream. I'm pretty proud of myself in that sense.

"But it's just the start."

RNS bw/nb/ig/sg