Hansen backs Williams

 Oct 30,2012
Written by: Editor

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has backed his decision to include veteran lock Ali Williams in New Zealand's 32-man squad to tour Europe.

Williams was part of a disappointing Super Rugby campaign with the Blues  earlier in the season and picked up a serious knee injury during the All Blacks' June Test series against Ireland.

The 31-year-old, who is the second-most capped lock in All Blacks history, also had a quiet performance in Auckland's ITM Cup final loss to Canterbury. But Hansen defended the player's inclusion.

"It came down to the same conclusions that we came down to in June - that we have a 75 Test veteran,' said Hansen.

"Yes, he has not played a lot of rugby because of injury but we know he has got the mental capacity to do the job on the field.

"He brings with him a huge amount of experience, to which we know he is good at assisting the young guys and Brodie Retallick and Luke Romano will benefit from that."

Hansen added that Williams was a unanimous choice among the three selectors.

"Mentally he's in great shape, probably the best shape I've seen him. There's a huge amount of desire to prove that he's worthy of still being there," said Hansen.

"That was enough to select him because an Ali Williams when he's playing well is an asset.

"It would appear that he hasn't played a lot of rugby and that's a fact, he hasn't and he's probably a little rusty.

"But that doesn't take away from the fact he's a proven international, he's been world class and mentally we know he can cope."

The first Test against Scotland on November 11 falls nearly 10 years to the day since Williams made his Test debut against England at Twickenham.


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