Hansen: ‘SBW playing better than ever’

Date published: August 2 2015

New Zealand head coach Steve Hansen believes Sonny Bill Williams is producing his best rugby ever ahead of the World Cup.

Williams received underwhelming reviews for his performances with the Chiefs in Super Rugby this year but started for the All Blacks against Argentina.

The cross-code star was then left out of the squad to face South Africa at Ellis Park, along with Dan Carter, but he has Hansen's full backing.

"He played well in combination with Ma'a in Christchurch and I should imagine if he gets another opportunity he will play well in Sydney or Auckland," Hansen told Stuff.

"He's a class athlete. He's just been named in the [NRL side Canterbury] Bulldogs team of the decade, and there were a lot of reasons he probably shouldn't have been from their point of view.

"We know he's a good athlete and we know he's playing better rugby now than he's ever played because he understands the game better.

"We all know he's going to be on the plane to the World Cup and he's just got to keep playing well and stay injury free."

Addressing the reports that Williams had been disappointed about not travelling to Johannesburg, Hansen added that Williams knew it was "team first, individual second" and that any disappointment was a positive.

"It's good to hear he was disappointed though because you want players who want to be in the team all the time."