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SBW: Jean my biggest test yet
Sonny Bill Williams (Gallo Images)
Cape Town - And now, in the words of Peter de Villiers, we will see whether the boxer is able to box and the dancer able to dance.Video: SBW in the boxing ring
The boxer here is the Crusaders' Sonny Bill Williams and the dancer the Stormers' Jean de Villiers.
Newlands is the ring in which these two superstars of world rugby will meet for the first time on Saturday in a Super Rugby encounter.
And Williams does not dispute the Springbok coach's recent statement that a showdown with the Stormers midfield will be his litmus test.
"There is no better centre than Jean to see where I am at. It's what it's all about," Williams said on Thursday.
"We probably have not played against as good a midfield as this yet. With the talent these guys have it's going to be a tough challenge for me and Robbie (Fruean). This is my first season of Super Rugby and I'm here to challenge myself against Jean this week," said Williams.
Williams (25) views the match as the biggest challenge of his career to date.
"I’ll have to say that because of the team we are coming up against. They are in really good form and not at the top of their conference for no reason. They are playing some good footy and I'm just really excited about the challenge," he said.
Williams, who made his All Black debut on New Zealand's Grand Slam tour last year, has distinguished himself with his ability to draw defenders and off-load in the tackle in his first year of Super Rugby.
However, he also makes the odd mistake that results in turnover possession, though his overall contribution is immensely positive.
This weekend the professional boxer - he is unbeaten in three fights - is up against the tournament's best defensive side.
"The off-loading in contact comes from my rugby league background. When I played league as a forward there was a big emphasis on keeping the ball alive. But the off-load is as good as the players around me make it. When you have strike weapons in the backline like the Crusaders have, it makes it a lot easier," said Williams.
"Our understanding at the back is getting better and better. It helps when you have players like Israel Dagg, Sean Maitland, Robbie Fruean ... the list goes on."
Williams does not agree that neutralising him will necessarily neutralise the Crusaders.
"I don't think that is the case. As you saw last week, Israel Dagg scored a couple of individual tries. Our back three is very venomous. I'm just another cog in this Crusaders team; I'm not the Crusaders," he said.
"People tend to get caught up in the media hysteria around me, whereas I just like to go out there and play my part to the best of my ability."
Williams also does not believe Saturday's match carries relevance with regards to the anticipated contests between the All Blacks and Springboks this year.
"The Crusaders are up against one of the form teams in the competition. I just want to play my part well, win and do it in some style," he said.Teams:Stormers:
15 Conrad Jantjes, 14 Gio Aplon, 13 Jaque Fourie, 12 Jean de Villiers, 11 Johann Sadie, 10 Lionel Cronje, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Francois Louw, 6 Schalk Burger (captain), 5 Andries Bekker, 4 Rynhardt Elstadt, 3 CJ van der Linde, 2 Deon Fourie, 1 Wicus Blaauw
Substitutes: 16 Tiaan Liebenberg, 17 Brok Harris, 18 De Kock Steenkamp, 19 Nick Koster, 20 Ricky Januarie, 21 Kurt Coleman, 22 Juan de JonghCrusaders:
15 Israel Dagg, 14 Sean Maitland, 13 Robbie Fruean, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Zac Guildford, 10 Matt Berquist, 9 Kahn Fotuali’i, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Richie McCaw (captain), 6 George Whitelock, 5 Chris Jack, 4 Luke Romano, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Corey Flynn, 1 Wyatt Crockett
Substitutes: 16 Quentin MacDonald, 17 Andrew Olorenshaw, 18 Joe Wheeler, 19 Matt Todd, 20 Willi Heinz, 21 Tom Marshall, 22 Adam Whitelock