Cape Town - All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has slammed those critics who are not happy with Sonny Bill Williams’ form.
Williams made 23 tackles in the All Blacks’ 25-24 win over the Springboks in Cape Town on October 8, but some critics say he has lost his attacking skills that made him such a unique force when he began his Union career.
“He is playing well,” Hansen told the Stuff website.
“When he is a flashy player everyone moans about him being too flashy, and that he doesn’t do the hard work.
“At the moment he is doing all the hard work and probably not as much as the other stuff that people get excited about. But he is in the leadership group, he is leading well and has a major influence on the young guys with his training habits.
“He is getting down and dirty and doing the hard work. We are quite happy with him.”
Hansen is also happy with how the 32-year-old has bounced back from a ruptured Achilles tendon.
Although Williams’ attacking form hasn’t been at its best, his defence has been accurate and aggressive.
“He is trying to make good decisions and sometimes, like all players, he gets them right and sometimes he doesn’t,” Hansen added.
“He has always been a player who has been loved by you blokes (in the media) or hated by you blokes. It is a 50-50 split. When he does things wrong all the haters get on top of it, and when he does things right all the good guys get on top of it.
“He is a good international rugby player.”
Hansen also said Beauden Barrett was did not feel fully fit after recent training sessions. Lima Sopoaga may start and uncapped Richie Mo’unga could be listed on the bench.
Meanwhile, Matt Todd has also impressed Hansen.
“We all think Matty has played outstandingly well and probably deserves to be here,” Hansen explained.
“We have got enough backs coverage for this one particular game, so rather than bring someone in who has not been with the team at all this season to basically sit on the bench and do nothing - and that guy would have probably been Seta (Tamanivalu) - and they (Taranaki) are involved in a playoff series.”