SBW a RWC 'marketing ploy'

2011-08-26 08:50

Wellington - The Rugby World Cup will provide a global spotlight on how much substance there is to the hype that surrounds Sonny Bill Williams Inc.

The five-million-dollar man who walked away from what was then the biggest contract on offer in world rugby to stay with Toulon has now realised his stated dream of being selected for the All Blacks World Cup side.

However, he has still to prove that along with being one of the most talked about players in the World his ability is real and not a myth manufactured by his minders.

When he was rushed into the All Blacks last year after only a handful of provincial games in New Zealand Williams made headlines with an uncanny ability to draw in two or three defenders then deliver a freakish offload.

A year on it seems everyone is flicking the ball out of the back of hand, even frontrow forwards are doing it, and there is a question mark of what else is in Williams' arsenal.

Springboks coach Peter de Villiers is one who doesn't believe there is much else, saying Williams may impress with backhand passes but he still needs the core skills of rugby.

"He'll spend hours and hours on the things that are not important and never master the most important things of rugby," de Villiers observed.

Even within the All Blacks camp there are ominous signals as coach Graham Henry showed a preference for Ma'a Nonu as his number one inside centre over the 6ft 3in (1.91m) and 17.3 stones (110kg) poster-boy.

While Nonu taunted opposition with his power, aggression and liaison with Conrad Smith outside him, the midfield punch noticeably dropped away when a hesitant Williams was given a run.

Off the field Sonny Bill impresses with his humility and his willingness to spend time with fans but when it comes to the business side of Sonny Bill Williams Inc. it is manager Khoder Nasser who pulls the strings.

When it came time to renegotiate Williams' contract it was not until Nasser confirmed New Zealand had the inside running that the player said he wanted to stay in the country another year.

He added the only decision was to decide whether to stay with the Canterbury Crusaders or move to the Waikato Chiefs where All Black backs coach Wayne Smith is heading or go to the Auckland Blues to be near his mother.

A month further on no contract has been signed, although the Crusaders who value loyalty are out of the running, and there are reports of a stumbling block over sponsorship rights.

According to the Sunday Star-Times, Nasser secured a contract for Williams with a rival company to a New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) sponsor. The NZRU vetoed the deal and Nasser now wants compensation.

Although it was no surprise Williams was included in the New Zealand World Cup squad - there were two berths and Henry only had sights on Williams and Nonu - former All Black Andy Haden said Williams had to consider himself lucky on recent form.

The New Zealand media who talked up Williams a year ago are also expressing unease.

Prominent rugby writer Phil Gifford rates Williams selection a marketing ploy.

"The rapid decline in form for the man who has promised so much can be easily dated, to the farcical boxing bout in June against an injured sickness beneficiary," Gifford wrote on the Rugby Heaven website.

"The man who was showing signs of expressing all his remarkable physical gifts and skills has been a spectator at his own show ever since."

In the Timaru Herald, Jacob Page said Williams has "underperformed when the pressure has gone on."

Page added that with Williams appearing to stall for time on just where his future lies after the World Cup "maybe he knows his freakish powers of flattery are wearing off."

When Henry gave Williams a chance to prove himself by starting in the second Tri-Nations Test against South Africa last weekend, Wynne Gray in the New Zealand Herald, summed up Williams performance as delivering "a nifty offload or two into play but that was about the extent of his influence."


  • jk - 2011-08-26 08:53

    still love sonny and everything that goes with it

      Howzitekse - 2011-08-26 09:34

      He has thrown that offload hundreds of times in both forms of rugby without being caught out. I remember when Mohamed Ali was at his peak. Everybody in SA hated him. It figures. I think it was Clive Rice who said "South Africans celebrate mediocrity". No wonder we knock exellence. Check him out on Youtube. While you are there, check out Manu Tuilagi who is bigger and stronger than SBW, and has been picked to play for England. Scary. If you hate/fear SBW, you will despise this guy.

      Jenny - 2011-08-26 10:13

      Look how the Cheetahs took care of him, you think the bokke cant do the same? Im sorry but he is no match JDV and JF

      Shark-Chic - 2011-08-26 11:57

      I love sonny too jk..........

      Bellakanoose - 2011-08-26 12:26

      Who is Sonny Bill Williams????

      roboman1 - 2011-08-26 15:37

      Peter De Villiers stated months ago that SBW was not so hot, and he was catigated for it, now the chickens are coming home to roost though for SBW, proving Div right

      Mark Stevenson - 2011-08-26 18:51

      Spot on for once Div. I have said this a long time ago that he is obsessed with offloading the ball to the extend that he looses the ball a lot in contact. So he still needs to learn the BASICS of rugby. But if he can do tht and combine it with the offload he does then yes, he could become a great player!

      Netherlander - 2011-08-26 22:44

      Give the man CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE!!!! Yes, you lot might NOT LIKE THE AB's.... but SBW is a phenomenon! Look how he draws the opposition players IN.... and PASSES the ball PERFECTLY to his fellow team member... HOW MANY OTHER PLAYER CAN DO THAT???? Not many... I am NOT an AB supporter... but when a man can play uncanny rugby... give him CREDIT where it is DUE!!!

  • SAFFA-CAT - 2011-08-26 08:57

    Dear rugby gods............... could it be true? Someone else stating what I have been stating the entire year? Someone in NEW ZEALAND nogals? What fun!!!!! PS: You go P Divvy, spot on coach! @jk - sorry, you know we will never agree on SBW and the circus that is his career. BUT: we will always have Western Province :)

      SAFFA-CAT - 2011-08-26 09:01

      Oh yes, just wanted to add: JUSTICE FOR MA'A NONU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      Crusaderinvader - 2011-08-26 09:43

      I recall stating many moons ago that I'd much rather have Frank Bunce in my ABs team over SBW!..he's a talented player and may still prove me wrong, but at the mo he doesn't deserve an AB squad spot!!

      jk - 2011-08-26 09:44

      saffa- im all for hype around the right caracters, cause the can handle it and were born to do it, if you know what i mean. Wp to get 5 points..gonna be tough, but we are wp rugbt, and its not negotiable!!!

      jk - 2011-08-26 09:48

      what i also cannot handle, is some clowns comment that sonny wont even get a spot in the bulls team... hallo! he plays for the crusaders of all teams... cant handle idiots!

      InternetMan - 2011-08-26 10:50

      Pdiv is always right, just misunderstood. Also, racism.

      Rob van den Heuvel - 2011-08-26 14:01

      @jk - problem with the hype around the players ( in this instance SBW ) is that along with all the media attention comes a lot more focus from opposition players and coaches ( example, see what happened to SBW in this years Super 15 when the crusaders played OFS ). Same thing happened with Lomu in '95. From my view point, pile all the attention you will on SWB as it seems to be more of a hindrance than anything else. Gives our boys chance to focus on the task at hand, bringing home the Web Ellis trophy.

      BardofAvon - 2011-08-26 15:41

      jk: It is Sonny Bill William's wildest dream to bench for the Bulls.

  • Jack Hammer - 2011-08-26 08:59

    SBW - What a chop, a couple of big hits will break his confidence.

      Travis - 2011-08-26 11:45

      The one thing that I have to appreciate about SBW is that he is spoken of as a man with humility. That is a great characteristic for a man who has so much in terms of fame and money. I hope that this article is correct and that he has been worked out, because he is a strong bugger to be so talented. Truth is we will play against 15 players on the field and not just 1, and there has to be a top game plan, and the boys are going to have to put their bodies on the line in the greatest possible way - every game until we lift that trophy!

      Blip - 2011-08-27 04:14

      "Big hits"? From whom? The powderpuff tackle-slipping Boks? You're joking, right? The Boks let through 11 tries in their first two Tri-Nations tests. Big hits is foreign territory.

  • Erasmus - 2011-08-26 09:03

    Die ou sal nie eers vir die Bulle kan speel nie man, hy is overated.

      Razz-ma-Tazz - 2011-08-26 10:10

      @ERASMUS. Ek stem saam met jou. Hy sal NOOIT vir die Bulle speel nie, weet hoekom? want hy is nie BLONDE nie.

      The J - 2011-08-26 10:43

      Erasmus.Bit of a dumb statement mate. Granted he has received more accolades and media attention than he deserves, but he IS good and a hell of a lot better than that sorry escuse for a centre Wynand Olivier. It's overrated hey. 2 r's. Back to Benoni High for you...

      The J - 2011-08-26 12:10

      Sh.t. I meant excuse not escuse... Reckon I should head back to school myself...

      Erasmus - 2011-08-26 13:15

      Die All Blacks sou wat wou gee om 'n briljante senter te he soos Wynand Olivier. BRANNAS EN COKE MANNE! BRANNAS EN COKE! DIE BLOU BUL!

  • Stryder - 2011-08-26 09:04

    Hands through the tackle and look for the offload, I was coached that at u13 level.

      InternetMan - 2011-08-26 10:40

      Spot on. This was drilled into me from standard 1 by teachers of Maths and Afrikaans not even rugby coaches.

      Rob van den Heuvel - 2011-08-26 14:04

      @Stryder - agreed. Another thing we were all taught at school was to pass the ball in front of the player so that he receives the ball on the front foot, at pace. How difficult is this?

  • JohnnyOzzy16 - 2011-08-26 09:04

    Sonny Billitis... its a disease. You can see schoolboys chucking the ball around and making more mistakes. He adds no value to AB's, he makes them more vulnerable in midfield.

      citizen1001 - 2011-08-26 15:36

      rather the school boys try to chuck it around a bit then employ the boks boring, outdated, philistine kick chase pressure "hope the opposition makes a mistake" rugby that we see too often at rugby powerhouses such as maties, paarl gym etc. free flowing running rugby is the future and we being left in the dark ages boys :( i struggle to watch us, its painful! will still b supporting the boys at the WC of course but man for pure rugby enjoyment we cudnt b more stale! bout time our schoolboys tried a chuck out of the back of a hand or two otherwise we will jus keep producing wynand olviers?! heaven save us then

  • Aribs - 2011-08-26 09:12

    SBW..the king of the forward pass and offload in the tackle...great at disguising it too as no ref has really pinned him on it...Go Bokke...!!!

  • Leon - 2011-08-26 09:17

    A flash in the pan. He's strong and the dude has some skill. I'll give him that. But do any of you remember that game between the Cheetahs and the Crusaders in the Super rugby game played at Bloem? The Cheetahs piled on so much pressure on SBW and Co. that he left the field to avoid further embarrasment. The World Cup is all about pressure, son. I can forsee that the pass, now known as 'The Sonny Bill', will be intercepted and a try scored from it. And I don't think it is going to be long before SBW displays his boxing skills on the rugby field. Pressure leads to frustration. Frustration leads to anger. Anger leads to the dark side. Just ask Bakkies and Butch.

      FJ2 - 2011-08-26 09:22

      Ever seen SBW box? He should stick to rugby.

      Rob van den Heuvel - 2011-08-26 14:18

      @FJ2 - he should stick to Rugby League...

  • kittycat - 2011-08-26 09:27

    Love, Love, Love SBW

      JohnnyOzzy16 - 2011-08-26 09:30

      his rugby or his looks?

      kittycat - 2011-08-26 10:22


      Shark-Chic - 2011-08-26 11:59

      Me too kittycat, me too

      jk - 2011-08-26 12:03

      me tooooooo- so, how far your team gonna loose tom sharkchikkie???lol

  • Claude - 2011-08-26 09:44

    Yea he likes to make forward passes in the offload because the Ref and Assistants don't pick it up.

  • The Goose - 2011-08-26 09:45

    Sonny, please teach Pierrie Spies the freakish Offload.That will count in his favour.Enjoy your WC SB!

  • allyphint - 2011-08-26 09:46

    Month of Ramadaan perhaps?

      Bandleader - 2011-08-26 10:08

      You make a good point. We forget that he's Muslim, and RWC will be after Eid. He bobs and weaves like a boxer; I think this man has exploited a hole in the modern game by running into gaps, creating breaks, drawing opposition and offloading. Hate that he's so effective, love the fact that he's getting caught out. Hype? Sure, but his manager is a brilliant opportunist. Can't help wondering if SBW will crumble into nothing eventually.

      InternetMan - 2011-08-26 10:44

      A hole in the modern game you say? Please see Stryder's comment above. This is taught at junior level.

  • GraemeBB - 2011-08-26 10:12

    SBW again made a few good hits, and created space for his outside centre. And JDV??? Knock SBW if you like. I think he is making good money out of nothing.

      gfourie - 2011-08-26 10:25

      Come semi finals he will be in the team,he creates tries for his outside centre.

      Bandleader - 2011-08-26 10:33

      SBW's greatest weapon is surprise - we know what he'll do, but not when he'll do it. JDV has become very predictable and very slow. Always been a JDV fan, but he's slipped, and he's there on hype. Would rather see him face SBW than the dangerous Nonu, though.

      GraemeBB - 2011-08-26 11:45

      Gee, that Nonu is pure class.

  • kittycat - 2011-08-26 10:39

    What about SBW for the Stormers? Just wondering if all the Cape Crusaders will start supporting the Stormers.

      InternetMan - 2011-08-26 10:45

      He aint gonna have sex with you so get over it.

      kittycat - 2011-08-26 10:51

      @internetMan you are a real dick. These are after all rugby comments.

      buckaroo - 2011-08-26 11:50

      @InternetMan... or is that InternetFreak... No need for stupid comments like that... Just because you feel frustrated because you can't express your deep feelings for SBW... It's OK, we understand.

      Rossman - 2011-08-26 13:58

      LOL!! This is funny SH#T.

  • atreyu_za - 2011-08-26 10:56

    I lost all respect for the man after he took that dive.

  • - 2011-08-26 10:59

    It's funny, when snorre said this then everyone wanted to crucify him and called him an idiot. Now other rugby people are starting to notice the frailties in this guys game. The problem is, the things he does, works now and then, less than when it does, when it matters, i.e. semi-final, final, etc.

  • wdupreez - 2011-08-26 12:15

    a true legend in the making - this oke has absolute freakish skills. Only his defence is suspect, but that is to be expected as he has only been involved in the All Blacks' defensive patterns for a few months.

  • wdupreez - 2011-08-26 12:21

    Piere Spies is A LOT MORE OVERRATED than SBW. At least he shows signs of being a quality player. Spies is a glorified sprinter - can't catch a ball and can't tackle to save his life. I am not trying to be funny or sarcastic - I know all teh Bulls okes are gonna hit comments back on this, but if he played for any other team, they would feel the same. Just see how quick they turned on Habana and said that Basson was

  • Darrell Robertson - 2011-08-26 13:08

    SBW is good enough to make any starting lineup in the world except for the AB's and that is only because they have so much talent on offer at present. He is good, get over it. The Clown that represents SA rugby would love to have him in his team. Players like him bring crowds to stadiums and present the game for the spectical that is is. I would much rather see SBW than John Smit on a Saturday at my local field.

  • Ross - 2011-08-26 13:22

    What people don't understand is that half his offloads are forward to the centre running on, and he is very effective at shielding that from the ref. Typical All Black play

      SAFFA-CAT - 2011-08-26 13:59

      Give that man a frikkin CRATE of Bells - cancel. Make it Johnny Walker Blue Label.....and I will give ANY ref that spots this a crate as well.....with a wristwatch.

      rockster666 - 2011-08-26 20:57

      so as the boks passes all forward you know why.. they think playing grid iron

  • EJ - 2011-08-26 13:52

    I dont think SBW desrves all this poor unfair treatment. His manager Khoder Nasser is real @#$% and deserves most of the blame to how SBW is protrayed. Nasser, for those who are familiar with Rugby League is a cunning little loud mouth who is there just for the money . Hes the equlivilent of Don King which is no suprise to his latest stint with the NZRU. I wish SBW would just speak his mind, and decide for himself and his family on what he wants to do cos at the moment hes looking like a headless chook whos got no idea what hes doing. He isnt the smartest chap in sport but I really wish he would take direction on his rugby career otherwise its going to end up like the disaster that ruin his RL career.

  • Joshua Austin - 2011-08-26 14:03

    I must say in PE Sony Bill Williams was uncharacterisically quiet...

  • leonard.w.gray - 2011-08-26 15:47

    He is a great player, the way he dismantled the sharks in twikenham was devastating, if you give him space he and another quality centre like conrad smith or ma nonu could destroy you, he almost set up 3 all black tries in the last test match...

  • - 2011-08-26 17:17

    Oh please he is a joke....his boxing match with a old overweight boxer.....why dont he get in a ring with Uncle Bakkies and lets see what happens...chop DAAI BOER GAAN JOU MOER SBW............mark my words

  • Sleepazoid - 2011-08-26 19:59

    @Durbanpoison, I agree with your observations about SBW boxing skills, He`s a joke, It`s embarrassing to watch, like a really bad TV program aka Jerry Springer etc. my grandmother will knock him out.

  • muniz - 2011-08-26 21:22

    Safa 2 : I recall SBW putting it over jdv and jf in super 15 games makes me uneasy

      Mike B - 2011-08-26 21:42

      @muniz. Finakky someone with a bit of brains and not such a short memory!!!! SBW made the Stormers backline look stupid. In the Tri Nations game, I agree that SBW had a quiet game but the All Blacks broke the Bokke's backline 24 times!!!!!!! Bot all thanks to SBW, but he did have a part in some of the line breaks.Just imagine when he is on form what he is going to do to the Sprngboks!!!!!

  • johnnylaw - 2011-08-26 23:10

    you guys should stop acting like the SA cricket team and slagging off the opposition. It's called the curse of the commentator and we always end up swallowing our words. Be a little humble and talk about our team playing as a team, and not about the other guys.

  • Kaos - 2011-08-27 07:26

    SBW is an above average player, his off loads and vision are great, defense not so much. We also saw against the Boks that without Carter on his inside, he is not as great a player as people think, where as Nonu is great regardless. As for JdV he has played the entire season with a below average flyhalf and yet he hasn't looked all bad. Hope he gets the opportunity to play with Lambie or James for an extended period of time at the WC On a different point, my pet irritation - LOOSE is the opposite of TIGHT, LOSE is the opposite of WIN all it takes is a modicum of concentration when typing :)

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