Eager Williams rushes back to Blues

Fri, 11 Jan 2013 15:47
Large ali williams 630 Large aliwilliamsireland Large ali williams hand on knees

New Blues captain Ali Williams is so excited about the upcoming season he has joined the squad earlier than expected.

New Blues captain Ali Williams is so excited about the upcoming season he has joined the squad earlier than expected.

The 77-Test veteran wasn’t due back in camp until the end of January as the All Blacks are given an extended break, but he chose to rejoin the team for their first week back this week as preparations ramp up for the 2013 Super Rugby competition.

With Keven Mealamu taking a well deserved rest and missing the first month of the competition, Williams has taken the reigns as captain and is eager to get stuck in.

“It’s a great opportunity and privilege for me to be a captain and lead this team,” Williams said.

“I think you've got to lead by example not by words so I need to be here from the start. I got injured last year so I had my break then and it’s good for me personally too.

“I need to get to the peak of my fitness and being around the team there’s a really exciting vibe so you can sense you’re helping build a great team. I thought it was logical to come in early rather than having an extra month or so off.”

Indeed in the 12 years he has played Super Rugby, Williams said he had never been more excited about a season than the one that lies ahead.

There is a strong sense that the added responsibilities of captaining a young and inexperienced Blues outfit could be the making of Williams in 2013.

With the squad boasting an average age of just 23, 31-year-old Williams, with 101 Super Rugby caps is one of the few elder statesmen in the team.

He doesn't shy away from the fact he is nearing the twilight years of his playing career, but pulling on the captain's armband may be just the thing to invigorate the 2.02m lock.

“I don’t think I've ever been more excited about a season than I have about this one,” Williams said.

“A) because it’s a whole new challenge for me as captain, but B) because I’m at that stage of my career where I just want to play the game and I want to play it to the best of my abilities so when the time comes I can sit back and say I had a good gig and now I’m going to do something else, because you live with the regret for the rest of your life.

“I don’t want to leave any stone unturned which is what I’m doing now so the next few months is about getting fit and getting an organised, passionate team together that really wants to play.

“We’re creating a pretty determined group, or a tribe as we call it, of people that want to drive what is going to be a winning culture.”

It is Williams’ first captaincy assignment since leading the Auckland Under-19s and so far he is relishing the challenge.

“At the moment it’s just a lot of organising and getting things to a situation where you can relinquish not so much the control but give players more ownership.

“We’re getting those areas tidied up now which you do at the start and then from here you sit back and take more of an overview and see where can we generally improve all over the board rather than just in specific areas so I’m thoroughly enjoying it.

“It’s going to take a lot of work but at this stage of my life it’s what I need and I’m loving it so far. At the end of the day I just want to see the team do well and I want to see individuals in the team push their cases for higher honours.

“But I also want them to run out when they’re wearing a Blues jersey and say ‘this is the team I really want to play for’, regardless of which provincial union they come from.”

Williams’ passion for the franchise is undeniable which is perhaps why he and new coach John Kirwan make such great partners – they both share a fervent desire to return the Blues to their rightful place as Super Rugby champions and bring back their fans.

“There’s no hiding JK's passion for the team, everyone can see that and he's shown that over the years and I believe it’s something I've shown as well,” Williams said.

“I love this region and I think it's about time we start giving back to the people that have supported us through thick and thin and hopefully this is going to be our year.”

The Blues have just over three weeks to prepare before they face 2011 Super Rugby champions the Queensland Reds on February 2 in Toowoomba, in the first of three pre-season fixtures.

There are currently no matches being played
FIXTURE GMT VENUE
Fri, 29 April 2016
Boland v Griquas 12h30 Wellington
Sale Sharks v Gloucester 18h45 AJ Bell Stadium
Treviso v Connacht 19h30 Stadio Monigo
Glasgow Warriors v Zebre 19h35 Scotstoun
Munster v Edinburgh 19h35 Irish Independent Park
Sat, 30 April 2016
Blues v Rebels 05h15 Auckland
Highlanders v Brumbies 07h35 Dunedin
Reds v Cheetahs 09h40 Brisbane
Border v Pumas 12h30 East London
Namibia v EP Kings 13h00 Windhoek
Leicester Tigers v Worcester Warriors 14h00 Welford Road
Western Province v Golden Lions 14h15 Newlands
Northampton Saints v Bath 14h15 Franklin's Gardens
Cardiff Blues v Ospreys 14h30 Millennium Stadium
Ulster v Leinster 15h00 Kingspan Stadium
Lions v Hurricanes 15h05 Johannesburg
Dragons v Scarlets 17h00 Millennium Stadium
Stormers v Waratahs 17h10 Cape Town
Jaguares v Kings 21h40 Buenos Aires
Sun, 01 May 2016
Exeter Chiefs v Wasps 12h00 Sandy Park
London Irish v Harlequins 14h00 Madejski Stadium
Saracens v Newcastle Falcons 14h15 Allianz Park
Fri, 06 May 2016
Crusaders v Reds 07h35 Christchurch
Brumbies v Bulls 09h40 Canberra
Griffons v Eagles 15h00 Welkom
SUPER RUGBY
MORE LOGS
Pool AU
Team P W D L Pts
Rebels 8 5 0 3 22
Brumbies 8 5 0 3 21
Waratahs 7 3 0 4 17
Reds 8 1 1 6 8
Force 9 1 0 8 6
Pool NZ
Team P W D L Pts
Chiefs 9 8 0 1 37
Crusaders 8 7 0 1 32
Hurricanes 8 5 0 3 26
Highlanders 8 5 0 3 24
Blues 7 3 1 3 16
Pool SA1
Team P W D L Pts
Stormers 8 6 0 2 28
Bulls 8 6 1 1 28
Cheetahs 8 2 0 6 12
Sunwolves 8 1 0 7 7
Pool SA2
Team P W D L Pts
Lions 8 6 0 2 27
Sharks 9 4 1 4 23
Jaguares 8 1 0 7 7
Kings 7 1 0 6 4