Williams set to be unleashed against Italy
Up-and-coming All Blacks prop Tamaiti Williams looks set to make his second and most important appearance in Test rugby at the Rugby World Cup against Italy on Saturday (NZT).
With Ethan de Groot serving a two-game suspension, Williams should have a chance to put his recent experience to work in Lyon.
Williams said: "It's time to go to work now. We're here for a reason. It's a dream to play for the All Blacks but to play in a World Cup is another dream, I'm looking forward to it."
Forwards coach Jason Ryan said Williams had been training well, putting the work in and learning from the experienced props. With de Groot being out due to his ban, it was no secret that Williams would get a chance to play.
"I'm looking forward to him putting in place what he's been working on."
There had been some good competition at training, and the players were getting amongst the physical exchanges. They had run some good scenarios and were ready to play some rugby.
Their time in Bordeaux was not a break where they stopped. They had freshened up and kept working but balanced that with some downtime, which he felt was successful.
"We've got to step up, and change gears and as a forward pack we're in a great spot to do that, and we'll have no excuses around that. It has to be a marker game for us as a pack."
Hooker Codie Taylor commented on the sometimes fiery preparation during their stay in Bordeaux.
"There's good niggle and then over-the-top niggle and I think we've had a bit of both at times."
He said Williams had been involved and thought it was a good sign that a first-year All Black was prepared to get stuck in and put his hand up and not be afraid of it.
Taylor said it was a must-win game against Italy in a tournament where everyone was a threat.
Since former All Black World Cup winner Kieran Crowley had been involved as the coach, the Italians had developed into the best Italy side Taylor has seen.
"That's a byproduct of the coaching and the players that have come through Italy of late.
"They pride themselves on their setpiece. They win the ball, and they want to play fast. When they can, they want to try and beat you with speed and skill. That's another thing Italy has picked up: their skillsets. With that, they have got a fast ruck.
"If we don't slow that down it will be a tough day. We've got to match them physically, if not better them, and slow their ball down."
All Blacks v Italy, Pool A: Friday 29 September, 9pm CEST, (Saturday 30 September, 8am NZT), Lyon, France. Live on Sky Sport NZ.
Game on! 🇮🇹— All Blacks (@AllBlacks) September 26, 2023
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