New Chiefs recruit Sonny Bill Williams is hoping that being a part of the star-studded backline in Hamilton next season will help him outshine inside centre rival Ma'a Nonu and claim the All Blacks No.12 jersey.
Williams burst onto the Super Rugby scene this year, playing a starring role for the Crusaders alongside the hard-running Robbie Fruean, but he could not make the All Blacks inside centre position his own and had to be content with a bit-part role in the World Cup which saw him play off the bench and out on the wing rather than in the midfield.
He is hopeful that the powerful Chiefs backline, which will boast a host of All Blacks stars next year such as Richard Kahui and Aaron Cruden, will provide the platform to prove that he should be playing ahead of new Blues recruit Nonu for New Zealand.
He told the Waikato Times: "When you're playing rugby in New Zealand, if you're not aiming to be the best in your position, then you shouldn't be playing.
"Richard [Kahui] is the same – he wants to be the best 13 in the country and I want to be the best 12. But there's stiff competition there. That just comes back to doing all the little things right, ticking all the boxes, doing your extras and playing well," he explained.
Williams said that he was looking forward to forming a potentially lethal partnerhip with Cruden and Kahui, but added that he would play on the wing if he needed to as well.
However, he made no bones about the fact that his sights are set on Nonu's All Blacks jersey.
"Ma'a is a great player, an exceptional player and a really good friend of mine but I'm looking forward to playing him and I know he will be looking forward to playing me too," he said.
Speaking for the first time about his decision to leave the Crusdaers and sign with the Chiefs the former Rugby League star explained that working with former All Blacks backline coach Wayne Smith and being closer to his mother who lives in Auckland were both big motivating factors.
*Meanwhile, Smith - who has been consistently linked with a coaching position with England - has said that he will delay any decision about his future until the end of the 2012 Super Rugby season.
Smith has a "get-out clause" in his two-year contract with the Chiefs and has openly expressed interest in getting involved in the England set-up, but the World Cup-winning backline mentor has made it clear that he will not leave Hamilton before seeing out at least one season with the Chiefs.
Smith linked up with former Springbok and Italy coach Nick Mallett to coach a southern hemisphere team in a charity match in London last week, which prompted the British media to speculate over the possibility of the two forming a coaching "dream team" at Twickenham.
"He [Mallett] put my name up with his [potential England coaches] so I had to answer a few questions," said Smith before explaining that he had made a commitment not to sign up with another national team immediately after finishing with the All Blacks.
"I was asked to come to the Chiefs and this is a job I'm excited about. This is my home province and I wanted to play here but wasn't good enough at the time so I went to Canterbury," the former All Black flyhalf said.
However, he made it clear that he still holds aspirations to coach at Test level and has not ruled out a role with England in the future, should the RFU be interested in his services.
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