News24

SBW: Past form means nothing

2011-10-19 07:31

Auckland - Previous results will have no bearing on Sunday's Rugby World Cup final, New Zealand back Sonny Bill Williams warned as he reflected on France's rocky road to the climax of rugby's showpiece tournament.

The French, hit by rumours of a rift between players and management, lost two pool matches, to New Zealand (37-17) and Tonga (19-14), before eliminating a lamentable England in the last eight and then just doing enough to defeat 14-man Wales 9-8 in the semi-finals.

The All Blacks, however, finished their pool play unbeaten and impressed again in knockout wins over Argentina and Australia, making the hosts firm favourites for the final at an Eden Park ground where they haven't lost since 1994.

"You can play against one side one week and then you play against them a couple of weeks later and they're a different team," Williams said Wednesday.

"Past form means nothing," added Williams, whose yellow card in the semi-final for a shoulder charge saw him on the field for only three minutes of a 20-6 win over the Wallabies after his late run-on as a replacement.

Turning to what he saw as French strengths, Williams said: "Their scrum is up there with the best in the world, their lineout is not too bad either and their backs are unpredictable.

"Expect the unexpected. They can shock us, as they've done in past World Cups."

Versatile back Williams made his name in rugby league, spending five years in Australia playing for the Canterbury Bulldogs, including winning the NRL grand final in 2004 at the age of 18 and going on to win seven Kiwi league caps.

And the 26-year-old, who broke his Bulldogs contract in a high-profile transfer to French Top 14 club Toulon before coming back to New Zealand in a bid to make the All Blacks squad, was coy on his immediate future.

"I haven't really thought too much about after the World Cup," he said.

"I've just been having so much fun, going from week to week trying to stay alive and stay in the team. That's been the whole focus. This Sunday is the big one and hopefully we can win it, because I think we deserve to."

Williams's second-row namesake Ali insisted there would be no complacency in the final.

"If you are too relaxed then you overlook the little things, the intricacies of the game, but if you're not relaxed enough you can get too tense and you don't enjoy the moment," the lock said.

"We're just trying to enjoy the week, because it's different to any other week that we'll ever have.

"Our performance last week won't be good enough. I don't care what you think of how the French have played in the last few weeks, they'll be a completely different side.

"They'll be a team that's possessed and if we're not at that level or better, then we'll walk away with nothing."

AFP

Comments
  • Bok - 2011-10-19 07:33

    Go the mighty All Blacks sit back ,and enjoy the game in South Africa

      Jerhone - 2011-10-19 08:54

      don't write off the blue cloud yet, they always have one good game in the world cup, it could be the next game, very unpredictable, very emotional people, be afraid be very afraid

  • Barry - 2011-10-19 08:21

    Choke Choke

      Peter - 2011-10-19 08:45

      doos

  • colin.dovey - 2011-10-19 08:42

    The All Blacks will lose in the dying moments of the game, by ONE point......wait and see. The French are a total enigma as they have shown many times in the past. The All Blacks are a superb team, and the French, right now, don't really deserve to win. However, without fear or favour, the AB supporters must brace themselves for another devastating RWC loss. The reason? - French Flair & Unpredictability. But don't bet the kitchen sink on that....the Bookies odds at the moment are: 1/6 All Blacks, and 6/1 France - if you are a beeting man or woman.

      Manus - 2011-10-19 08:48

      Not this time, I think. Sonny Bill is a good player. Can't box, though ...

  • Benmica - 2011-10-19 08:45

    It will be cheap victory.... after their referees took South Africa and Wales out of the cup the All Blacks are not the best. You are only the best when you win the best without the referee to help you.... Rugby is a farce.... Paddy O'Brian should hang his face in shame...

      colin.dovey - 2011-10-19 09:09

      Yup - no sour grapes, but they (some of the Refs) seem to have ripped the real heart out of this particular RWC

      Theo - 2011-10-19 10:17

      What is the difference between a bok fan and a puppy? A: A puppy stops whining after it grows up.

      Sean - 2011-10-19 10:33

      SOUR,SOUR SPRINGBOK SUPPORTER! WHAT ABOUT WAYNE BARNES WHO ROBBED THE AB'S IN 2007 BY MISSING A CLEAR FORWARD PASS! JUST ADMIT YOU ARE NOT GOOD ENOUGH!!!!! YOU HAVE ONLY WON 7 OUT OF 21 TESTS COMING INTO THIS RWC! YOU DON'T PLAY RUGBY!!

      Sean - 2011-10-19 18:55

      MAY I ALSO ADD THEN TO MY PREVIOUS COMMENT AND BY YOUR ASSERTION MR BENMICA, THEN THE SPRINGBUKS WERE ALSO NOT THE BEST WHEN WINNING THE 2007 RWC AS THEY FACED NEITHER OF THE TEAMS THAT COULD CHALLENGE THEM, LIKE OZ AND THE AB'S WHO WERE OUSTED BY A FORWARD PASS. IN ADDITION, AFTER THE RWC 2007, HOW LONG WERE YOU AT NO. 1 IN THE IRB RANKINGS MAY ADD?

  • pages:
  • 1