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All Blacks back disciplined Williams

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While New Zealand lock Ali Williams has fallen foul with management and senior players at the Blues, Graham Henry and his staff, in selecting him in the starting team for the French Test, have given him their unequivocal backing.

“He’s been outstanding in a word,” Henry said of Williams’ showing in training, according to New Zealand website Yahoo!Xtra.

“He’s matured into a very important player in the group. He had a very good tour last year and we don’t expect anything else.”

“His attitude has been spot-on,” said forwards coach Steve Hansen.

“He’s got a few things to prove and he wants to play well and he just wants an opportunity to do that. He’s been very solid all week in his preparation.

“He’s just Ali Williams and he’s a pleasure to have about.”

Meanwhile, with cousins Sitiveni Sivivatu and Joe Rokocoko selected to start on the wings, Henry has revealed he is eager to give Rokocoko the game time he lacked at the Blues during the Super 14, as well as give the over-worked Doug Howlett a rest.

Howlett was not part of the reconditioning squad.

“We wanted to get Joe and Siti on the track… Joe in particular hadn’t played a lot,” said Henry.

“Doug had a particularly good Super 14, particularly in the first two thirds of it. He probably needed some rotation in the latter third just to bring him back to that sharp edge again.

“So I think he was probably overdone and we are trying to make sure that he gets the time to recondition and get that edge back again. So that’s the reason for the selection of two guys and not Doug.”

Henry had no qualms in starting Rokocoko.

“He looks in good condition physically and he’s jumping out of his skin to play. I think he will be in good shape for the game.”

 

365 Digital

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