Sonny Bill Williams is delighted to be back in rugby union after taking part in a Counties training session in Pukekohe on Monday.
Code hopper Sonny Bill Williams has expressed his delight to be back in rugby union after participating in a Counties training session in Pukekohe on Monday.
Williams returned to New Zealand after a two-year stint in the NRL with the Sydney Roosters.
The 29-year-old also got some special one-on-one work with Counties boss Tana Umaga at the training session. He believes his transition to the 15-man code would be easier this time.
He previously worked with Umaga at Top 14 outfit Toulon in 2008 before coming to New Zealand in 2010 and also had a short spell with the Panasonic Wild Knights in Japan in 2012.
He feels that he has become more instinctive towards rugby union.
“Definitely, that’s probably the most pleasing thing, it feels more like second nature,” Williams told Fairfax Media.
“It’s awesome to come back here and be under Tana’s guidance, that’s where it all started, back in Toulon.
“That’s why Tana is the man he is, the coach he is, it’s all about those finer details.
“You can see it’s the little things that count with Tana. That’s what propelled me to do the things I did last time I was playing rugby and hopefully I can do it again.”
Williams finished his first Counties training session with special attention to the breakdown – a major difference between union and league.
The former All Blacks centre said he had “tweaked” his memory back during his first session.
“It’s good because a lot of the plays at Counties are the same as the Chiefs [his old Super Rugby side who he will play for again next year],” he explained.
“It will take me a while, a lot of hard work, but I’m confident I’ll be able to get the feel back.”
Williams is likely to be amongst the replacements when Counties host Auckland on Wednesday and they have another match on Sunday against ITM Cup tabletoppers Tasman.
“I’m just happy to be out here with the boys, getting to know them and the structures,” he added.
“I’ll find out tomorrow what’s going to happen.”
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has said Williams will be brought straight into the squad for the end-of-year tour but Williams is not focussing on the Test scene just yet.
“It’s step by step,” he said.
“I’m at Counties and if you think about those (other) things, nothing falls into place. My job now is to play good footy at Counties and earn my stripes there.
“The guys here have been awesome, really welcoming and I’m just keen to get out there.”