Rugby World Cup 2011
New position for SBW?
Sonny Bill Williams (File)
Hamilton - The imposing figure of Sonny Bill Williams is likely to pop up in a new position in the All Blacks' Rugby World Cup match against Japan on Friday, but just where is a closely guarded secret.
The 1.91m, 110kg Williams has played nearly all his rugby at inside centre since leaving French club Toulon last year to return to New Zealand with a World Cup berth in mind.
He was primarily a centre for Toulon but with a handful of games on the wing and in the backrow after previously being a standout backrower in his previous rugby league career.
All Blacks coach Graham Henry said on Thursday Williams had played well in the 41-10 win over Tonga last week and would get another opportunity off the bench against Japan, possibly in another position.
"He's played all his rugby this year virtually at 12, inside centre, and we might try and play him elsewhere, Henry said, adding "you'll have to wait and see", when pushed for more details.
"I don't want to make any rash promises here because he's a quality footballer, he creates opportunities, he had a big work rate last week and played well.
"The two centres we've got, (Ma'a) Nonu and (Conrad) Smith, have played a lot of rugby together and played very well for the All Blacks and created a high standard for the All Blacks.
"He might break in there or he might get an opportunity elsewhere. We're just looking at that situation."
Williams' first game for the All Blacks was at outside centre, partnering Nonu, against England at Twickenham last November, and he came off the bench to replace Smith in the 13 jersey against South Africa in Wellington in July.
His other six Tests for the All Blacks have all been at inside centre.