Sonny Bill Williams is up against the world's best No.12 Ma'a Nonu and is not guaranteed a run-on spot in the All Blacks' team for next month's World Cup, coach Graham Henry said on Thursday.
There was no place for the dual international in the matchday 22 when Nonu was paired with Conrad Smith in the centres for Saturday's Tri-Nations decider against the Wallabies in Brisbane.
Henry said the former Australian National Rugby League superstar has a task to make an impact at the World Cup with the All Blacks.
The coach said Williams' lack of versatility also cost him a place on the All Blacks' replacement bench for New Zealand's final Test before the World Cup.
"Sonny Bill's challenge is, I think, he's competing against the best No.12 in the world and that's great," Henry told reporters.
"He'll get his opportunity, [but] can he be better than the best No.12 in the world?"
Given Henry's sentiments Williams's first opportunity to play at the World Cup may come in the All Blacks' second pool game with New Zealand likely to choose their strongest line-up for their home tournament opener against Tonga at Eden Park on September 9.
Williams may have to prove his worth against Japan in Hamilton for a shot at Pool A rivals France on September 24.
"Quite frankly, it's a different experience for Sonny Bill," Henry said.
"He's always been, and rightly so, the top person in that position in the teams he's played in whether it be Rugby League or Rugby Union.
"Now he's in a situation in the All Blacks where there's high competition for places and he's not guaranteed a run-on spot.
"So when he gets the opportunity, he needs to nail it."
But Henry said Williams has responded to his selection disappointment well after being dropped from the side which lost 18-5 to South Africa last weekend.
"He's been outstanding in the group and we can't say any more," he said.
"Sonny Bill is a very fine rugby player and a very fine sportsman and he's desperate for an opportunity.
"You can't do that by walking down the main street in Brisbane. You have to do that on the football field."
Henry has chosen 10 of the players who thumped the Wallabies 30-14 at Eden Park early this month.
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