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Ali Williams prepared to fight for AllBlacks place

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Sportal.co.nz     12 Jun 2012     Getty Images

The veteran lock, who has chalked up 74 tests over 11 years, is accustomed to a starting role but he was on the bench for the first Test in Auckland last Saturday, won 42-10.

The much younger Sam Whitelock and Brodie Retallick were the starting locks and Williams admits he would have preferred being in the run-on side.

"It's certainly a little different [being on the bench] and I'm not settling into the role," he laughed.

"I respect the game and I respect form. I'm not playing badly, though everyone is making out that I am, but the reality is that there's a young kid [Retallick] who is going bloody good and there's Sam [Whitelock] who is going bloody good as well. They earned it [to start] and you've got to credit that."

Williams is determined to win back his starting position, however, and said he wanted to prove to head coach Steve Hansen that he was worthy of being ranked in the top two.

"When you're on the bench your mindset does have to change a little bit. You can't get too hyped too early and when you come on you've got to try and offer a bit of feedback as well.

"I love being out there, especially in this jersey, and it's an incredible feel playing alongside people like Dan [Carter], Richie [McCaw] and Reado [Kieran Read].'"

Williams has roomed with both Retallick and Whitelock and is only too willing to offer advice.

"The day this team becomes one of individuals is the day this team will plummet. Where I can help I do and the end goal for me and for this team is to win.

"I'm playing rugby because I'm enjoying it and want to be in this team because you want it to be better than where you found it."

Williams said he respected Hansen for acting as an assistant to Graham Henry for eight years and staying on to put his mark on the black jersey.

"You can sit in the bus and it will take you somewhere, but if you're driving it you send it where you want it to go.

"There are obvious differences with Shag as head coach. He's got a lot of faith in the boys but he also demands a lot when required. Once you earn his trust he knows what you can do, but in saying that he expects it every time and if you don't give it then he comes down hard.

"I think that's really refreshing - talking the truth is what people need."

Williams thought the All Blacks played 'remarkably well' considering their limited time together and felt the main focus this week was to strengthen combinations as he felt Ireland had been competitive in areas of the game despite the 32-point difference on the scoreboard.