Sonny Bill Williams is already in great shape as he prepares for the start of the Super Rugby season with the Chiefs.
Williams impressed in pre-season conditioning tests as he returns from rugby league after a two-year spell away.
During his last stint with the franchise, Williams helped the Chiefs to a maiden Super Rugby title, something they achieved again the following year.
They were then beaten in the play-offs by the Brumbies last year, but despite it being a World Cup year, Williams insists his focus is on the Chiefs.
“We’ve got some great talent here at the Chiefs, some young guns coming through. For me, the All Blacks are in the back of my mind, but the beauty of the Chiefs is that no position is guaranteed. I know I have to work my butt off just to get into the starting side,” said the 29-year-old.
“It’s about getting the skills back up to speed. Coming back to rugby you have to use a lot more mental aptitude. Mixing it up physically won’t stress me too much. But there’s a lot of hard work to go.”
Williams will be one of a number of Chiefs players in contention for this year’s World Cup, and coach Dave Rennie admits it adds an extra consideration heading into the new season.
“Sonny was impressive. He’s in good nick and it was a really good signal him coming in and being in that sort of condition on January 5,” said Chiefs coach Rennie.
“From an All Blacks point of view, we have to manage those top tier players. We’ve got a good group and good depth and a chance to play a big guy and a quick guy and some variation around that, or two big guys.
“The key thing is that he plays well for us. A lot of people want to go to a World Cup, but they’ve got to play well in Super Rugby first.”