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Philosophical Williams Braced For Break

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Ali Williams
Ali Williams

Auckland, July 3 NZPA - Once his battered body has been surgically enhanced, Ali Williams will still sit uncomfortably as the All Blacks rugby season continues to unfold.

The 61-test lock is scheduled for procedures on his right Achilles tendon and left shoulder on Monday, work that requires at least six months rehabilitation.

Williams hopes to return to the field when the Blues open their Super 14 campaign in February.

Until then the All Blacks' senior second rower admits he will do it tough watching the Tri-Nations before embarking on a sabbatical in the United States originally scheduled during the 2010 Super 14.

His enforced lay-off means the travel plans have been brought forward, with Williams believing the break will see him return physically and mentally refreshed.

All Blacks management and medical staff had hoped to select Williams for the one-off test against Italy in Christchurch last weekend but he broke down during training and had to watch rookie Isaac Ross settle into his role alongside Brad Thorn.

Williams confessed watching Ross during the tests against France and Italy had heightened his frustration at not being available.

"There's always someone to push you off the cliff isn't there?" Williams said when asked if he felt his position was under threat.

"That is that hardest part, watching.

"I think he's done extremely well. He's a confident young man and in open spaces he does very well," said Williams, recognising his own style in the Cantabrian's play.

"So far he's made a real fist of it. If you cast your eyes back to what I did ... I didn't do much for those first three or four years of my international career.

"And he'll get better with every experience he gets."

Still, Williams is determined to return to the national side, saying Ross has provided ample motivation.

"You have to use it as motivation, something to fire you up to get back into it. I've still got something to give to that jersey, the team and the country."

Despite experiencing World Cup heartache in 2003 and 2007, Williams said this season had arguably been his most frustrating.

The Achilles had been a bugbear for the majority of the Super 14, meaning he barely featured since returning from a championship-winning campaign with the Crusaders last year.

"It's been the toughest because I've never known the end (when he would be fit).

"With my other injuries I've known in four weeks or six weeks you'll be back. This one (Achilles) was give it a crack and hopefully you're right.

"Now I can see it'll be six months. Then I should be fine."

All Blacks coach Graham Henry announces his 30-man squad for the Tri-Nations tomorrow, the identity of Williams' replacement one of the few areas of conjecture.

With Ross and Thorn the first choice duo there will be space for someone to join Bryn Evans.

Taranaki's Jason Eaton's contribution to the Junior All Blacks unbeaten Pacific Nations Cup campaign casts him as the favourite to cover Williams.

Other contenders include Waikato's Craig Clarke, Jeremy Thrush (Wellington) and Otago's Tom Donnelly.

Meanwhile, Anthony Boric's broken toe continues to heal meaning the North Harbour utility may be available part way through the Tri-Nations defence, which starts against the Wallabies here at Eden Park on July 18.

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