Former All Blacks coach Steve Hansen singled out Sonny Bill Williams as the greatest athlete he has ever worked with.
Hansen’s praise of Williams comes ahead of the New Zealander’s return to Australian rugby league with the cross-code superstar expected to come off the bench for the Sydney Roosters in their clash against the Canberra Raiders on Saturday after completing a mandatory coronavirus quarantine period.
It will mark his return to a club where he played in 2013-14, after finding himself at a loose end when Covid-19 forced his Toronto Wolfpack side to withdraw from England’s Super League.
But Williams is best known for his time playing rugby union, where he claimed two World Cups with the All Blacks, as well as numerous Bledisloe Cups and Rugby Championship and represented New Zealand in sevens at the Olympics.
Hansen, who coached the likes of Richie McCaw, Ma’a Nonu and Dan Carter, has now said Williams was the best athlete he has ever coached.
‘The greatest rugby player I’ve coached was McCaw but Sonny would be the best athlete I’ve coached from a pure athlete sense,’ Hansen told the Sydney Daily Telegraph. ‘He’s a freak of nature.’
He also hailed Williams as a role model for younger players.
‘As he has got older, he has matured. His training habits and his off-field habits are world-class now. He will be a good role model for the young fellas in the club.’
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