Sonny Bill to face England

2014-11-06 07:20
Sonny Bill Williams (Getty)

London - Code-hopping centre Sonny Bill Williams has been given another opportunity to showcase his game-breaking ability after two years in rugby league as All Blacks' coach Steve Hansen named a virtually full-strength team to face England at Twickenham on Saturday.

The 2011 World Cup winner, who burst back onto the international scene last week against the United States with two tries after two years in the Australia's National Rugby League, was the only real surprise in Hansen's selections for the match.

"We just think Sonny brings something pretty unique," Hansen told New Zealand's Fairfax Media in London of the decision to give him the start instead of incumbent rookie Malaki Fekitoa or the versatile Ryan Crotty.

"We have seen him against lesser opposition and now we just need to see him against quality opposition.

"If he can do what he did the week before it will be good."

Hansen added that Fekitoa, who had impressed after shifting into inside centre following Ma'a Nonu's injury against South Africa in September, was not considered to better manage his workload.

"We looked at Malakai and he has had a massive season and just a wee breather for a couple of weeks won't do him any harm," Hansen said.

The coach also chose not to stretch flyhalf Daniel Carter, who played for 30 minutes against the Eagles last week in Chicago in his first test in almost a year, in the pressure environment in London.

Carter was not named in the matchday 23 to face Stuart Lancaster's side as he continues to recover from a broken leg, with Beauden Barrett to come off the bench. Aaron Cruden retained the starting jersey in the pivotal position.

"Dan's fitness is fine. He just hasn't played enough rugby yet to play in a match like this," Hansen added.

Hansen restored his first-choice pack with loose forwards Jerome Kaino and captain Richie McCaw returning to join Kieran Read after they missed the Eagles' match, while the entire starting tight five has changed from last week's 74-6 victory.


England: TBA

New Zealand: 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Ben Smith, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Aaron Cruden, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Richie McCaw (captain), 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Wyatt Crockett,

Substitutes: 16 Keven Mealamu, 17 Ben Franks 18 Charlie Faumuina, 19 Patrick Tuipulotu, 20 Liam Messam, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Beauden Barrett, 23 Ryan Crotty

Read more on:    all blacks  |  sonny bill williams  |  rugby

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