Sonny Bill Williams looks to have earned himself a starring role in New Zealand's World Cup campaign after a try-scoring first outing on the wing - with just a few days' practice under his belt.
Williams, the ex-Rugby League and sometime heavyweight boxing star who could not make the side only last month, admitted he had never played wing before and had only a few training sessions before coming on against Japan.
"I've never played wing in my life but just to be able to get out there and get amongst it, I was happy with that," Williams, who usually plays in the centres, said.
"I had to learn new moves and things like that. I sat down with a few of the boys. But once you're out there you're in the thick of it straight away."
The result, after replacing Cory Jane just after half-time, was Williams' first two tries and some solid defence in a menacing performance which united coaches Graham Henry and Steve Hansen in praise.
"I thought he made a statement," Henry said after the 83-7 rout. "He scored a couple of tries and made another one he looked pretty handy and defended well. So he'll be pleased with his performance and it's certainly of interest to the selectors the way he played today."
Hansen said the 26-year-old Williams was unlikely to start games on the wing but that he gave coaches a wealth of options with his versatility.
"I don't think we'll start him there but what it does allow you to start thinking about is, here's a guy who can cover multiple positions. Because before we probably thought he could cover 12 or 13," Hansen said.
"He certainly made a good fist of it tonight, not just because he scored a couple of tries but how he played. His defensive play was good, his positional play was pretty good as well. That's the exciting thing about him playing there," he added.
The purring reviews make Williams a certain presence in the All Blacks campaign, less than a year after making his Rugby Union Test debut following his conversion from League and a stint at French club Toulon.
He had already stood out in New Zealand's disjointed opening game against Tonga, with form that gives the All Blacks a timely boost as they seek to end years of pain with their first World Cup title in 24 years.
"We just had to use him well. He's a lethal weapon and offences will be trying to scramble to stop him," said centre Ma'a Nonu. "If he just gets behind the first line of attack, you don't know what he's going to do.
"He played well tonight, he ran well and I think he defended well too. He's probably not used to being the last one in defence but he had a hell of a game," added Nonu.
Williams, who said he had taken advice from fellow All Blacks Mils Muliaina and Israel Dagg, said he was glad to have grabbed his chance when it came along.
"With the other boys in the squad, any opportunities you get you've got to try and nail them. Hopefully I've done it tonight," he said.
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