Wellington - Veteran lock Ali Williams has admitted he is getting itchy feet on the bench in the Rugby World Cup, but was just pleased to be back in the team at all, he said on Monday.
The 30-year-old Williams made his international return earlier this year after battling Achilles' trouble for two years, but has been reduced to a bench role in the bigger Tests.
"That's the harsh reality. I went away and people have come in my place," Williams told reporters at the team hotel in Wellington.
"From the start of the year, I was struggling to get a spot with the Blues. There's a guy called Anthony Boric and he's playing... well too.
"The reality is all four (Williams, Boric, Brad Thorn and Sam Whitelock) of us could be in that (first choice locking) combination.
"I love this jersey, I love this country and I don't deny that sitting on the bench and watching for 60 minutes is not what I'd like to do.
"But it's what I have been doing and so, when I come on, I've got to do my role. But I'm not hiding the fact I want to start."
Williams, a member of the 2003 and 2007 World Cup squads, said the All Blacks had not begun to look ahead to any potential quarter-final opponents - at this stage likely to be Argentina - as they still had to play Canada in their final Pool A clash in Wellington on Sunday.
"Are we getting ahead of ourselves? I think we're getting ahead of ourselves here," he said when asked by an Argentine journalist what he thought of the Pumas.
"Last time we got ahead of ourselves, we shot ourselves in the foot and then we did it again a few years before that - shot our other foot. We're just trying to leave our feet on.
"The reality is Canada are a pretty good side. For us, it's not so much looking forward but it's looking here and now."
Williams, who played in the 20-18 quarter-final loss to France in the 2007 World Cup, said the All Blacks' 2011 campaign had taken a step forward in their 37-17 victory over Thierry Dusautoir's side at Eden Park on Saturday, but they were not the finished article yet.
"The reality is that we needed to step up from the last two games (against Tonga and Japan) and I think we did that," he added.
"I still think we've got a lot to work on. There were a lot of areas we were not happy with, but there's definitely some good signs there.
"But the old cliche - it's one game at a time and that was last week and now we've got Canada this week."
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