Blues

Williams to smooth out his ‘rough edges’

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A rueful Blues lock Ali Williams said he has “a few rough edges” to smooth out. Speaking to the media on Wednesday, the All Black stalwart said he was extremely disappointed after being thrown off the Blues team.

Williams acknowledged that his playing future next year in New Zealand is uncertain, after he was sent home in
disgrace by the Blues.

Williams arrived back in New Zealand from South Africa late Tuesday, after the team management and senior players from the Blues decided to banish him ahead of their Super 14 semi-final against the Sharks.

Williams travelled to South Africa from Sydney with the Blues on Sunday, before being told to go home for what franchise chief executive Andy Dalton described as “behavioural issues”, including late night drinking sessions and a lack of respect for team management.

Dalton on Monday said Williams ignored four separate warnings from team management and that a number of senior players in the team were among those who decided to discard the lock, considered a certainty to play for the All Blacks at this year’s World Cup.

Facing a crowded media conference he admitted he had “a few rough edges” to work on. He said he was extremely disappointed he had been “put in this situation” and took a “bit of responsibility for his actions”.

“It takes two to tango and obviously I’ve put myself in this position,” he told the media gathering.

He refused to elaborate on the incidents that led to his being sent home, but admitted he had been out drinking before a game.

“They’re just team issues I’ve got to sort out, I can’t go into them.”

He said he had been drinking with friends in Sydney, but denied he had done anything wrong.

Looking emotional he said what hurt most was being dropped on the request of fellow players.

“I am not helping the team in a time of need … It hurts me the most.”

He denied he had an alcohol issue.

“I don’t think it is a major issue, but it is an issue,” he said.

Capped 40 times since his All Blacks debut in 2002, Williams was guarded when asked about his rugby future in New Zealand.

“My future with New Zealand is until the end of the year and I’m going to give it everything to help whatever team that I’m with.

“As to my future, I’m unclear yet.

“I’ve got a lot to give back to this game and this country and I want to start by doing that this year.”

When asked about his relationship with Blues coach David Nucifora – who had said Williams had to go home for the good of the team – Williams said they were both individuals working for the team.

He avoided answering questions about speculation regarding a falling out with Nucifora, but said he hoped to be available for selection next week following the Blues’ semifinal against the Sharks in Durban on Sunday morning (NZT).

The fact that senior players had been involved in the decision to send him home had hurt him the most.

“I’m not helping the team in a time of need, in a semifinal, I’m not there giving it everything to work for that same goal.

“The fact they have said their piece, it hurts the most.”

Williams refused to say how many chances his team-mates had given him, saying it was not about chances but about communication and how the Blues operated as a team.

He had been out drinking with friends in Sydney.

Suppressing a smile, he said he had admitted to management in Sydney he had been out but said he had not been a “bad boy”.

“Is it a crime to go out?”

“It was pretty obvious, I wasn’t hiding anything.”

New Zealand Rugby Players’ Association chief executive Rob Nicol said Williams would take part in discussions with Blues management over the next few weeks to resolve the issue.

Nicol downplayed the decision to send Williams home, saying Williams had only been left out of the playing 22 and that breaches of player protocol happened often.

“If that had occurred in New Zealand it wouldn’t have gone any further.”

 

365 Digital

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