Rugby World Cup 2011
SBW: All Blacks will not change style
October 5, 2011
Sonny Bill Williams wants New Zealand to continue with their open, expansive brand of rugby © Getty Images
Sonny Bill Williams is hoping that the All Blacks can approach the knockout stages of the Rugby World Cup with the same level of adventure which saw them light up the pool stages.
New Zealand are the only side going into this weekend's quarter-finals on the back of four successive bonus point-clinching victories, having run in a staggering 36 tries in their wins over Tonga, Japan, France and Canada.
Of course, the All Blacks have long been the game's great entertainers and yet they have repeatedly failed to produce the goods on the game's grandest stage. Consequently, there has been a suggestion that the Kiwis should adopt a more cautious style of play to ensure that they end their 24-year-wait for a second World Cup title. Williams, though, does not want the All Blacks to abandon their attacking ethos.
"Hopefully we can still express ourselves out there, and play with the freedom that we have been playing," the former league star said. "But also we have to acknowledge that this is knockout football, that there's no tomorrow.
"You've just to find the right balance, not go into your shell and still express yourself but also recognise that it's finals football."
Indeed, while the All Blacks are clearly the team to beat, he feels that they must now be increasingly wary of opponents he expect to rise to the challenge of trying to upset the hosts in their own backyard, starting with Sunday's clash with Argentina in Auckland.
"You've just got to tick all the right boxes, at this stage of the tournament, it's about tapering down, getting the mental part right," he said. "Every team that faces the All Blacks raises their game and now it's the knockouts, they're going to raise it a bit more, we've got to be ready for that."
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