Sonny Bill scores try in club rugby - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Sonny Bill scores try in club rugby

By Daniel Gilhooly 07/08/2010 04:43:02 PM Comments (0)

Sonny Bill Williams launched his quest for an All Blacks rugby jersey with a try and an injury in front of a fascinated audience in suburban Christchurch on Saturday.

International sporting glamour came to Belfast's Sheldon Park as former rugby league star Williams played his long-awaited first game in New Zealand since undergoing minor knee surgery six weeks ago.

A crowd of about 3000 turned up with children sitting in trees to get a glimpse of the man who turned down a massive offer from French rugby club Toulon to pursue a childhood dream to represent New Zealand.

It wasn't hard to spot the strapping 25-year-old, standing a head taller at inside centre than virtually every player in the lowly Bowl competition match.

Crowd numbers halved when he exited the game after 50 minutes, favouring his hamstring.

Moments earlier he enjoyed his best moment, a solo try from 60m out when he toed a loose ball, regathered and outpaced the cover defence.

It helped Belfast to a 22-7 win, something that pleased Williams as much as his own performance.

"The body was good. The hamstring got a little bit tight but it was good to knock 40-50 minutes out and get a win with the boys," he told a phalanx of New Zealand and Australian reporters.

"This is what grass roots footy is about and thankfully the boys took to me really well and I've enjoyed my time with them.

"My defence was a bit off, trying to shoot out there a couple of times. Hopefully I can be like a snowball effect, start off there and then gradually progress."

Williams distributed neatly - including seven offloads in the tackle, mostly using his trademark backhand flick.

The former Kiwis league international sometimes appeared lost in what was an unstructured game, watched by both Canterbury and All Blacks coaches, buried deep in a supportive crowd

"It was unbelievable. I was a bit tired at halftime but I knew I wanted to give the people their money's worth, I really enjoyed it," he said.

"It's good to know that people still like me. Especially down this way, rugby league's not really that big.

"The kids saying 'Sonny Bill, you're cool', that means a lot."

It remains to be seen whether the hamstring niggle rules him out of contention for a first appearance for Canterbury next weekend.

Williams was taking nothing for granted, knowing the two-time national provincial defending champions wouldn't gift jerseys to anyone.

"That's the reason I came down here, because I know it's a big challenge," he said.

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