No player should be selected for the All Blacks based on their name alone. But for Blues midfielder Sonny Bill Williams – this could well be the case.
Williams has been named in the Blues side to take on the British and Irish Lions on Wednesday night, but there is a gigantic bracket overclouding the whole story. Williams is still recovering from a minor knee injury, and as backup, TJ Faiane is available to fill in.
Is Sonny Bill Williams A Certainty For All Blacks?
But its all about Williams you’d suspect. Should he play – it will be a big night at Eden Park for the cross-code superstar with the All Blacks squad will be named by Steve Hansen the next day.
Conjecture suggests that Williams is a certainty for selection; but with just six games under his belt this year, Williams needs to make a big mark at Eden Park. Zero tries, four clean breaks, and just a single assist are the three striking numbers in Williams’ stats for the Blues in 2017.
Big Guns Return For Blues As Lions Descend On Eden Park
The Blues have had a difficult past month. Four Super Rugby games, a trip to South Africa for some of those, and a stop-off in Samoa for a special clash against the Reds.
Just a handful of days after that – Tana Umaga’s men have to front up against the touring British and Irish Lions who will be hungry to dominate at Eden Park after an underwhelming performance in their opening tour match against the Provincial Barbarians.
77-test All Black Jerome Kaino has missed selection in the hopes of featuring for the All Blacks – either in the warm up match against Samoa or in the First Test against the Lions.
Eight current or former All Blacks have been named for the Blues. Charlie Faumuina will become the most-capped Blues player when he lines up for his 98th game for the club, while four others bring over 50-caps worth of experience.
Blues v British and Irish Lions – Eden Park, Auckland
BLUES Squad: 1 Ofa Tu’ungafasi, 2 James Parsons (c), 3 Charlie Faumuina, 4 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 5 Scott Scrafton, 6 Akira Ioane, 7 Blake Gibson, 8 Steven Luatua; 9 Augustine Pulu, 10 Stephen Perofeta, 11 Rieko Ioane, 12 Sonny Bill Williams/TJ Faiane, 13 George Moala, 14 Matt Duffie, 15 Michael Collins.
Replacements: 16 Hame Faiva, 17 Alex Hodgman, 18 Sione Mafileo, 19 Patrick Tuipulotu, 20 Kara Pryor, 21 Sam Nock, 22 Ihaia West, 23 TJ Faiane/Melani Nanai.
“Main photo credit”