Cape Town - A popular New Zealand scribe is of the opinion that All Black centre Sonny Bill Williams’ days as an international centre are numbered.
Mark Reason, who writes for the Stuff.co.nz website, was not impressed by Williams’ recent performances for the All Blacks and has called for the New Zealand selectors to consider another centre partner for Ryan Crotty.
Williams started in midfield in last Saturday’s 25-24 Rugby Championship win over South Africa at Newlands.
Reason, however, was not impressed by what he saw from Williams at the famous old ground.
“Sonny Bill Williams is starting to look like a very expensive mistake,” Reason wrote in his latest column for the New Zealand website.
“He had a couple of great moments playing for the Blues against the Lions, but he is not the player of seven or even two years ago. Sonny Bill has lost a yard of pace, which he could ill afford to lose, and he has lost some of the agility that used to allow him to spin in the tackle.”
Reason could not fault Williams’ commitment against the Springboks, but said he was not making the desired impact.
“Against South Africa he made tackle after tackle, although he was never able to get into a front-on position to make the kind of destructive tackle that defined him. He was always grasping at a man who was nearly past him. Sonny Bill made 23 tackles in the match, a heroic effort, but none of them made an impact.
“The bigger worry for (All Blacks coaches) Steve Hansen and Ian Foster is that Sonny Bill is making little impact on attack any more. Yes, there were a couple of elegant passes as the All Blacks ran out of defence. There was also a lovely long, flat pass to Dane Coles. But these are the things you work on with Sonny Bill, they are not the reasons why you select him.”
The 32-year-old Williams, who is a former Rugby league star for the Canterbury Bulldogs and Sydney Roosters, has played 42 Tests for the All Blacks between 2010 and 2017.
CLICK HERE to read Mark Reason's full column on the Stuff.co.nz website