Springbok centre Damian de Allende is looking forward to potentially clashing with All Blacks midfielder Sonny Bill Williams in Saturday’s Pool B opener.
After news surfaced over the weekend that the star No 12 had been struggling with injury and was expected to be ruled out of the World Cup, All Blacks coach Steve Hansen confirmed at Tuesday’s media conference that Williams was ‘very, very energetic’ during training and that a full squad is available for selection for the Bok game.
Double World Cup-winner Williams has struggled with multiple injuries both this season and in recent years, with many questions over his fitness and whether Williams can still compete at the highest level.
De Allende, however, believes Williams still possesses great quality and will be a handful for the Boks if he takes the field come Saturday.
‘I’ve played against him numerous times at Test level and at Vodacom Super Rugby level and the challenge he gives you on the field is amazing,’ said De Allende.
‘I think that if you embrace the challenge it can only make you, not just a better rugby player but a better person off the field as well.’
Williams, a devout Muslim and humanitarian has spent much of his time whilst injured doing charitable work in the community, with De Allende acknowledging Williams’ impact away from the game.
‘He does a lot for humanity off the field, so I always look forward to the challenge.’
De Allende will be hoping to recapture some of the form he showed during the 2015 Super Rugby season, when the Stormers centre featured in most of the 2015 World Cup games, including his duel against Williams in the semi-final.
The Bok team to face the All Blacks in Yokohama will be announced early on Wednesday morning SA time.
— SA Rugby magazine (@SARugbymag) September 17, 2019
Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix