Williams set for club bow
August 4, 2010
Canterbury's Sonny Bill Williams watches training, Canterbury training session, Rugby Park, Christchurch, New Zealand, July 9, 2010
Sonny Bill Williams is set to make his debut in New Zealand this weekend © Getty Images

Sonny Bill Williams is set to make his debut in New Zealand rugby on Saturday when he runs out for Belfast in a club game against Lincoln University.

The former Kiwis league international and Toulon centre has dominated the headlines since his return to New Zealand and there will be an interested observer on the touchline in the form of All Blacks assistant Wayne Smith.

Williams has made clear his desire to pull on the black jersey and while Smith admits that the ex-Kiwi's presence may help with takings at the bar, he would have made the 10km trip north from Christchurch to watch his former club regardless. Smith's All Blacks take on Australia at Lancaster Park on Saturday, hours after Williams' bow.

"They're [Belfast] dear to my heart," he said. "Sonny's presence will add a bit of spice to the occasion, they're picking pretty big bar-takings afterwards."

Williams is yet to feature for Canterbury in provincial action after recovering from minor knee surgery in June and could be pressed into action against Manawatu in the ITM Cup on Thursday in an emergency.

What is certain is that he will have to impress quickly if he is to influence selection for New Zealand's end of year tour to Hong Kong and Europe. The All Blacks are currently in a rich vein of form and are sat atop the Tri-Nations standings, with names such as Isaia Toeava and Sitveni Sivivatu still on the treatment table.

"There's probably some nervous players sitting around the country who are world class players and would be dying to get into this team, particularly the way it's playing at the moment," Smith said. "We all know what those two players can do so it will be an interesting time for the selectors."


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