New Zealand

All Blacks lock's days numbered?

Tue, 12 Jun 2012 08:32

Veteran New Zealand lock Ali Williams faces a fight to get back into the starting XV after falling behind Sam Whitelock and Brodie Retallick in the pecking order.

The 31-year-old might consider himself lucky to be in the All Blacks squad after an indifferent season with the Blues, but he warmed the bench for the 41-10 win over Ireland.

Williams has vowed to fight for his place in the run-on side to prove he can still add value on the international stage.

"It's certainly a little different [being on the bench] and I'm not settling into the role," Williams told Sportal with a chuckle.

"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."

"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 was also quick to praise new head coach Steve Hansen for taking up the mantle after serving as assistant to Graham Henry for eight years.