Sonny Bill Williams gets his chance
Sportal.co.nz 08 Sep 2011 Getty Images
But he was the surprise inclusion at inside centre for the All Blacks' opening game against Tonga on Friday.
Williams was adamant it had not been a frustrating time and said he was excited to have his shot in the tournament.
"I want to take it in two arms and really give it a good crack. That's what I am aiming to do and am really excited to be playing," he said.
"We want to start off with a good bang and I am thankful I am part of it."
After delays in confirming his future commitments, Williams said everything else was irrelevant, he was concentrating on playing Tonga.
Coach Graham Henry said his advice to Williams would be not to try and do it all in five minutes, the game lasted for 80 minutes.
"I thought he played very well in South Africa but I do think when the players do get a chance, and haven't played for a while they try and push it too much, probably overdo it and I guess patience is going to be key," Henry said.
"And if he just lets his natural ability control the way he plays, he will play well."
Williams said he just was looking to fit into the team role.
"I guess it is toning it down a bit, sometimes I get too excited out on the field. We've talked about it at length and I will be trying to do that this week. I just can't wait to get out there," he said.
Fitting in with outside centre Ma'a Nonu would not be an issue because the side had been training in mixed roles all campaign.
Williams didn't think the situation in the World Cup could be compared with other areas of his career. Pressure was involved wherever he was playing and the requirement was to concentrate on doing the little things well.
Williams said he was always competitive but if he wasn't in the playing side, or on the bench, his job still wasn't done.
"You've got to prepare the boys the best that you can and that's what I try to do week to week," he said.
Shoulder pads would be the order of the day to cope with the expected Tongan approach on Friday, he said.
"The boys will be coming at us with that physical intensity but we give as good as we take [sic] and that's the mindset we've got to be in this week because the island boys when they play come with that physicality and that's what we've got to match," he said.
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