England v New Zealand, Twickenham, November 6
Cueto wary of 'Superman' Williams
November 5, 2010
England's Mark Cueto takes on Delon Armitage during a training session this week © Getty Images
England winger Mark Cueto has hailed rising All Blacks star Sonny Bill Williams as "Superman" ahead of their showdown on Saturday.
Williams, the former Kiwi rugby league star, will make his All Blacks Test debut at Twickenham at outside centre and Cueto believes England must source some kryptonite if they are to have any chance of claiming a famous scalp. The 25-year-old has been fast-tracked into the team just months after returning to New Zealand, replacing Conrad Smith in the No.13 shirt to form a seismic midfield partnership with Ma'a Nonu.
The 6ft 3in and 17-stone Williams came to prominence during a two-year stay with French side Toulon following a controversial switch from the 13-man code. And he offered further evidence of his class in this season's ITM Cup with a powerful running game that mixed pace and sublime handling skills. Cueto agreed that Williams is an impressive specimen - but the Sale wing is confident England can shackle him.
"We've got a load of computer footage which we can click on and analyse all the players. When you click on Sonny Bill it looks like Superman, it's absolutely ridiculous," said Cueto. "He's obviously an exceptional individual player. He is a massive unit, his off-loading ability is amazing, he can break tackles well and his defence is solid.
"From that point of view he's a world class player. You don't get average players at this level, especially in an All Blacks shirt. They are the best team in the world if you give them the opportunity they will just totally destroy you - but I have spoken to Jonny [Wilkinson] about him and the boys are well clued up on him. It's his first time in an All Black shirt and it's at Twickenham so hopefully we can put pressure on him, get in his face, and see what he comes up with."
Williams will line up opposite Shontayne Hape, his former New Zealand rugby league team-mate whose role with England is very similar. Martin Johnson will look for Hape's powerful running and offloading ability to break the gain-line and set England's strike runners free.
Cueto knows that with less than a year until the World Cup, it is vital England start to build on that 21-20 triumph. And despite all the talk from defence coach Mike Ford of slamming down the shutters, Cueto vowed England will look to attack the All Blacks from the outset.
"To get that win on Australian turf was massive. It was great for belief and confidence," said Cueto. "From an attacking point of view we want to go out and play as we've tried to do over the past few games.
"There's not even a mention of playing a tight game and kicking for territory, all that kind of stuff. There's not even been a thought of that. Certainly from a defensive point of view we need to get in their faces and hopefully preventing them from doing what they're good at. But of course you want to score tries, I've never been scared to say that."
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