Sydney - Australian rugby league coach Tim Sheens says the early form of Sydney Roosters
back-rower Sonny Bill Williams - who has declared himself eligible for
New Zealand - should be a reminder to his team of the size of the
challenge it faces against the Kiwis this year.
According to the stuff.co.nz website, Williams, who has just returned to the NRL and continues to impress,
has given the Kiwis an enormous boost before this month's Test by
making himself available, while also ensuring he can also play in the
World Cup. That has Sheens, whose team will likely have to combat
Williams on April 19, wary.
''He's started the season strongly,'' Sheens said. ''He's played
well. They've got a lot more than just him, obviously. But he's going to
add to the ability of that side.
''It puts us further on notice; they're the world champions, and
we're certainly going to have to be at our best to hold him off. It
starts with this test.''
Williams has not played for the Kiwis since 2008 - the season he
walked out on the Bulldogs - but he clearly shapes as one of the squad's
strike weapons. The Kiwis won the last World Cup, also in 2008, without
Williams, and now he is expected to be part of the squad Sheens expects
more pressure to be heaped on his side.
''He's got a long year in front of him, but you can only think if he
stays healthy, he's going to get better,'' Sheens said. ''He's had four
or five years out of the game, but his figures are coming back stronger
''Our job will be to limit what he can do but also to concern
ourselves with what will be a very good Kiwi side. We need to keep
reminding ourselves that they are the current world champions, and
Williams will add to the fact that they are a very good side. He's a
quality player … so we're going to have to work a little harder.
''We might be rated at some stage as favourites, but we've got to do
the job. This test is a start, and we need to make sure we get
ourselves ready for the World Cup with a good, strong game.''