Rugby World Cup
Samoa star Tim Nanai-Williams does not harbour All Blacks regrets
Sam Bruce
September 26, 2015
South Africa and Italy record first wins (Australia only)

It was a tough night's work for Samoa in Birmingham on Saturday, but there was one shining light from their heavy loss to South Africa: the outstanding play of Tim Nanai-Williams.

The Chiefs flyer, and cousin of Sonny Bill Williams, was at the centre of anything the Pacific Islanders did right in Birmingham, and he remained a constant threat in attack despite the Springboks' dominance. He was also the catalyst behind easily their best moment of the match, a try that was later overturned by the Television Match Official for a forward pass.

While the 44-6 result was tough to take, Nanai-Williams said he had absolutely no regrets about his decision to switch his allegiance to Samoa - even with talk that he may one day have been an All Blacks representative.

Tim Nanai-Williams breaks past Jannie du Plessis © Getty Images

"There are no regrets at all," he said after the loss to the Springboks at Birmingham's Villa Park. "I'm loving every minute of it. The decision, to come here and play for Samoa, I've loved every moment of it ever since I made the decision.

"I've said it before, that when I made the decision, it was pretty much that if my family was happy for me to go with the decision then I was happy with it. So I just followed my heart and it's quite funny being the only person doing it. I've had no guidance. I'm just enjoying every time."

Meyer: We must now focus on the next one

Nanai-Williams was a key fixture in the Chiefs' Super Rugby triumphs of 2012 and 2013, proving himself an invaluable utility option as he covered wing, outside centre and full-back. Renowned for his fast speed and footwork in Super Rugby, the 26-year-old back looks right at home at Test level despite making his debut just a few months ago against, ironically, the All Blacks.

Nanai-Williams said the biggest difference about Test rugby was the need to capitalise on your opportunities.

"Slightly, there was a step up," he said. "I guess like I said before, you've got to make the most of your opportunities in Test rugby and if you don't capitalise on it, then other teams will. It's quite like Super Rugby, it's quite a fast-paced game and I'm quite used to that when I was playing for the Chiefs.

"So, yeah, there is a bit of a step but like I said you've just got to make the most of the opportunities in Test rugby."

Nanai-Williams was easily the pick of Samoa's starting XV on Saturday, a week after his cousin was credited for changing the All Blacks' fortunes against Argentina last Sunday. The younger of the two, Nanai-Williams, said he'd been speaking with his Chiefs team-mate and family member since the tournament had kicked off.

"Yeah, we've had a few banters going back and forth this week or since we've been here," he said. "I'm trying to catch up with the boys - Liam [Messam] as well - so I was talking to them yesterday and also today, so it's been good."

Samoa now sit at 1-1 with their opening win over the United States now just a distant memory. They remain in contention for the semi-finals but must regroup quickly and prepare for clashes with Japan and then Scotland.

Nanai-Williams was confident they could still reach the quarter-finals, providing they made a couple of simple changes to their effort on Saturday night.

"We've still got a chance, we still got two games to go and our next challenge is Japan next week," he said. "So I guess we've really got to pick ourselves up for next week. It was a hard loss today and the effort was there, it was just a bit of execution and a bit of discipline that really kept us out of the game to be honest. But like I you said, we've got Japan, and will focus on that now."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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