Menu allblacks.com

News

EXCLUSIVE COLUMN

Jim Kayes

Jim Kayes has been covering rugby since the late 1990s across print/online, radio and television with The Dominion Post, Stuff.co.nz, TV3 and Newshub, Radio Live and Radio Sport.  He's been to five World Cups, covered almost 200 All Blacks Tests and was on safari with the Lions when the British and Irish side last toured New Zealand, in 2005.

Read more exclusive columns

Williams shows class on return to the All Blacks - Kayes

Getty Images

Jim Kayes     30 Sep 2018     Getty Images

He came into the test in Argentina having not played a game since the third test against France in Dunedin on June 23.

He didn’t last the match, hurting his shoulder, and it was a surprise he started the game as he’d had knee surgery after a loose chip was found a few weeks earlier.

QUICK TAP: HANSEN HAPPY WITH ANOTHER RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP TITLE

That nip and tidy was supposed to rule him out of the French series completely, but Williams is such a freakish athlete he bounced back quickly.

Williams polarises opinions. Some don’t rate him, but struggle to fully explain why. What they can’t avoid is that he has won two World Cups.
Add to that Super Rugby and NRL titles, boxing his way to the New Zealand heavyweight title and playing for the All Blacks and Kiwis, and it is hard to see how people can question his abilities.

It truly is the ridiculous tall poppy syndrome that permeates so much of New Zealand culture.

Against Argentina Williams was impressive on defence and with his ability to off load the ball while being smashed to the ground. He makes it look easy.

And remember, all this from a bloke who has barely played in four months.

Another who showed his class was Beauden Barrett. Sure he missed some kicks in the loss to South Africa and at about 71 percent his success rate is lower than it should be.

But as any golfer will tell you, sometimes the radar is off.



It was back on in Argentina as he didn’t miss. You have to take the rough with the smooth with Barrett whose value to the All Blacks is far greater than what he does with the kicking tee.

The Pumas test also saw another fairytale within the All Blacks.
We all know the tale of Karl Tu’inukuafe the prop who was so overweight he was told by his doctor he would die if he didn’t change.

Change he did, returning to rugby, losing weight and coming from virtually nowhere to play for the Chiefs and then the All Blacks.

Angus Ta’avao wasn’t going to die from obesity but his playing career was in its death throes.

Earlier this year he saw a careers counsellor to see what he might do with his life having tried to break into the Wallabies while playing for the Waratahs and failed to secure a Super Rugby contract back in New Zealand.
Like Tu’inukuafe, it was the Chiefs who came to the rescue even if both props were surviving on weekly contracts.

Ta’avao’s elevation adds to the depth Steve Hansen is building in the All Blacks ahead of next year’s World Cup and the win in Argentina could be a key part of that.

That was a relatively young pack that took on the Pumas with Brodie Retallick and Liam Squire out injured, Dane Coles still sidelined and Kieran Read going straight to South Africa.

Add to that Luke Whitelock pulling out on the day of the match through illness.

In his place at No.8 was Ardie Savea who was very impressive and showed what an asset he is to a squad and how valuable and important he could be in Japan next year.

Hansen will fly to South Africa comfortable with how his squad is building toward the World Cup and content that they have secured the Rugby Champions.

But he knows the job isn’t finished. Planning for the future is all well-and-good but Kiwis want success along the way too.

The All Blacks were frustrated by the loss to South Africa in Wellington.

They will want to atone for that in Pretoria.