Kirton: SBW on wing at RWC

2011-07-06 10:42

Sydney - Sonny Bill Williams should be played on the right wing at the Rugby World Cup and has the potential to have a similar impact on opposition defences as Jonah Lomu did, according to former All Blacks selector Earle Kirton.

There has been much debate about whether Williams or Ma'a Nonu should wear the All Blacks No 12 jersey this season, but Kirton suggests the selectors should think outside the square to accommodate both players.

"You might think it's from left field, but SBW should be considered on the right wing," he said on Monday.

"If you have Sonny Bill ghosting across the back of Ma'a Nonu and then entering the backline the defence won't know what to do.

"With Jonah Lomu we used to say he scored tries without the ball because he took out so many defenders as a decoy, and I think Sonny Bill could have the same effect from the wing.

"You would have Nonu and SBW to deal with and with Dan Carter at flyhalf and Conrad Smith running wide it would be a nightmare [for defences]."

Kirton, who was an All Blacks selector in 1988 and again from 1992 to 1995 when Lomu was picked for the Rugby World Cup in South Africa, believed Williams would quickly adapt to the wing.

His power would be complemented by the pace of Sitiveni Sivivatu, Sean Maitland or Hosea Gear on the left wing.

Kirton, who played 13 Tests at flyhalf from 1963 to 1970, still believes the New Zealand Rugby Union should have done more to bring former All Black Nick Evans back to the country.

"He would still be the second-best flyhalf in the world. He has more control over the game than [Quade] Cooper. I think Cooper is certainly stronger on attack, but he doesn't defend that well and Evans does and he has more control with the boot."

Kirton said similar attributes would see him pick Colin Slade ahead of Aaron Cruden as Dan Carter's backup.

And he is also adamant Blues halfback Alby Mathewson should not be discounted despite the strong form of Crusaders No 9 Andy Ellis.

"I have an inkling for Mathewson. He's the best passer in the country off the ground with quick ball and I think with Carter controlling him he would be able to say I want the ball now ... he's also the quickest guy over 20 metres of any of the halfback candidates."

Rugby Heaven

  • StBad - 2011-07-06 10:53

    I don't think experimentation is what the All Blacks need at this RWC, they have enough quality players in each position already. Christian Cullen at no.13 in the 2003 RWC is a good example of needlessly shifting players just to accommodate them.

      SAFFA-CAT - 2011-07-06 10:57

      They did the same in 2007 with MaCalister.....and we know how that turned out as well. Happens every WC with their selections. That's why I HOPE Henry selects SBW and the uncapped/untested Freuan - let him drop Nono and Smith - and BINGO.

      gooinat - 2011-07-06 11:03

      If Henry gets he's selections right then that AB backline could be awesome.

      SAFFA-CAT - 2011-07-06 11:33

      @Gooinat - the hope I have, is that as per usual (every WC) Henry stuffs the selections up in spectacular fashion. In 2007 he didn't even know who his starting 15 (bar Mcaw and Carter) were. I'm telling you, he will bow to pressure to find a place for SBW in the starting 15....(in the centre I reckon) and then because old Graham is a fan of combinations, he may be tempted to throw the uncapped Freuan in the mix as well.....If SBW and Freuan start for the AB's - it will be BINGO for all the oppostions teams - as I reckon that is what will cost them a title :) (If Henry wants to win, he plays Nonu and Smith - both tried and tested at that level) Can't wait to see who Henry plays in the the centre.

      gooinat - 2011-07-06 11:42

      Saffa,as a neutral and I'm only going this way on current form,I would start with SBW and Freuan,Nonu and Smith are tried and tested but have not played much together this season due to suspensions injuries etc. but they still remain a great centre pairing.However I do agree with you on Freuan that he could be exposed and as you say BINGO for the opposition.Luckily the Tri nations is before the WC so it gives teams a chance to so call experiment a bit.

      Maori - 2011-07-06 11:51

      I hope that henry stays to the tried and tested combination. Imagine introducing SBW later in the game when it opens a bit, having some space or create space with the runners off his shoulder. Start with Nonu and Sir Conrad Smith. Saffa, world cups are not won on hoping the other side gets their selections wrong. It is like hoping for a draw where yoy miss the big guns. Henry must not make the same mistakes as in 2007. Even if Robbie is in the mix, cannot see him being a liability. He has class around him and needs to step up, which he is capable of doing.

      SAFFA-CAT - 2011-07-06 11:58

      Hello @Maori - I say I am 'hoping' they do the SBW and Freuan combo, as it will PROVE once and for all that Henry should have gone after the last WC, and Robbie Deans should have been the current AB coach......Henry should have gone after 2007 (IMHO) - and I am desperate to see if the man learnt anything from that expedition in terms of selections etc. (And NO - hoping for an AB stuff up, CAN NOT and will not be the Bok gameplan....) Do you read the NZ Herald's rugby pages? Go and read an article by Rattue in the NZ Herald dated the 6th. (About South Africa and England = WC) Much of what he says has been discussed here. very interesting.

      SAFFA-CAT - 2011-07-06 12:01

      @Gooinat - I honestly don't give a stuff if the Boks are snot-klapped in every game in the Tri-series, as long as it's in the name of "WC planning/success" etc. (It will also ensure that we get "better" odds when betting on the Boks come September...we have to go in as 4th/5th favourites to really score) :)

      rugby_guru - 2011-07-07 07:43

      Regardless of anything NZ has to offer South Africa _ALWAYS_ finds a way to tame that side come the WC... Time to trash them this year...

  • GILLBERT - 2011-07-06 11:02

    think hes more dangerous in the midfield

      Albo - 2011-07-06 12:05

      Exactly, his strengh is to pull players towards him and somehow manage the offload while the gap is created. Can`t really be done on the wing!

      rockster666 - 2011-07-10 00:27

      Wayne Smith disagree of that idea playing SBW on the wing but he said Nonu will be the ideal person to move out to the wing.

  • GHT - 2011-07-06 11:30

    "If you have Sonny Bill ghosting across the back of Ma'a Nonu and then entering the backline the defence won't know what to do." I just love that sentence. It paints the picture in your head. You can just imagine the devastation that this will case to any line of defense. This guy sounds like he knows what he is talking about, but at the end of the day. They All Blacks will pay the price if they experiment like that. Probably will be a mistake to try something like that in the world cup. But holy crap. Can you just think of the devastation they would case!

  • swimfan - 2011-07-06 11:53

    I think the wallabies would have the best backline at the WC, for example: Genia9, Cooper10, turner11, O'conner12, Ashley Cooper13, Ioanie14, Beale15. Now thats a propper looking backline!!! Pitty Drew Michell is injured!

      InDeep - 2011-07-06 14:33

      Well let's look at the Springbok backline - 9 - Fourie du Preez , 10 - M Steyn / B James , 11 - Habana , 12 - de Villiers / de Jongh , 13 - J Fourie , 14 - Pietersen / Aplon , 15 - F Steyn

  • Black Beauty - 2011-07-06 11:55

    I reckon it's just mind games coming from NZ, trying to sow seeds of uncertainty into other opponents heads. I expect the same mind games from SA etc etc. Game plans are built on watching the opponents key combinations and how to nullify them, but I agree to some extent what Saffa-cat says about Henry's previous selections/combinations. I still think Henry's our best coach for the WC regardless of previous failed WC attempts. In Henry I trust.

      SAFFA-CAT - 2011-07-06 12:27

      @Black Beauty - morning. As a Saffa, I have always reckoned that New Zealand being blessed with such talent, is a double-edged sword when it comes to tournaments like the WC. It is incredible to have 2 world class 15's, like Mills (who I would always start with...) and Dagg, not to mention centres, wings, even scrummies. (Ok, flyhalf is a little iffy...but what the heck) - BUT: is it wise to try and make place for all of them in your run on team etc etc? When there is so much choice - it becomes tougher to make those KEY selections. Now we in SA might not be as blessed in the backline in terms of players/stand out stars etc - BUT, because of this (hopefully) the management focus on the players limitations as well, when planning, and NOT just their strengths (as would be the case in NZ possibly - due to the sheer numbers of players who HAVE individual strengths) Not sure - but in my mind, it makes it harder to select a squad, especially when you want all your playmakers on the field (e.g. SBW), but at what cost/sacrifice? (ditching Nonu who has a proven track record at international level) Interesting times.

  • wigga - 2011-07-06 12:00

    9.ellis/mathewson, 10.carter, 11. h.gear, 12. SBW, 13. fruean, 14. guildford, 15. Mils then toeava, rokocoko,conrad smith, the left out 9 and mcallister! amazing squad!

      Black Beauty - 2011-07-06 12:06

      What about I.Dagg over Mills? I still reckon Mills as selection though.

      wigga - 2011-07-08 09:31

      @black beauty, i doubt whether they will leave mils out! i'm sure that he will be the starting 15! dagg in squad but with 3 backline reserves- scrumhalf, mcallister(10,12) and then its rokocoko/gear/toeava adn dagg fighting for 2 places in the 22! tough to be a selector!

  • Raka13 - 2011-07-06 12:16

    Du Preez, James, deVilliers, Fourie, Nel, Habana, Frans Steyn. De Jongh, Morne Steyn and Hougaardt on the bench. If these players peak at the right time, they can be the best backline in World Rugby? SBW should not play wing, his strenght I think is in the midfield where he has runners off him. Nonu has an eye for a gap strong on his feet and can defend pritty well, SBW is strong on his feet and has a brilliant off load in a tackle, but for me it is not more of a value than what Nonu brings to the game?

      SAFFA-CAT - 2011-07-06 12:41

      @Raka13 - I agree with you 1000000000%. They will probably learn this the hard way....(I also wonder how many of those Northern Hemisphere refs will 'allow' SBW to get away with his tackling. He really does go in too high - and I can only imagine the wailingggggggggggg if SBW is sent off in a WC knockout game - Nonu is also risky, but SBW will be the target of the NH refs)

      Whoosa - 2011-07-10 05:47


  • abe1wp - 2011-07-11 14:27

    SBW and Fruen were lost under the pressure on Saturday. Do not try to change or experiment with new things. That is an old habbit of the All Blacks. Stick with Nonu and Smith, bench SBW and play SBW in the lesser games. If not, it will cost the AB's again.

  • pages:
  • 1