Cape Times

Joseph: I’ve been on the wrong end of Nanai-Williams


LONDON: Tim Nanai-Williams heads to the Rugby World Cup with just one Test cap to his name but Samoa’s Pool B opponents would do well not to dismiss the electric outside back as a raw rookie.

The versatile 26-year-old’s lack of internatio­nal experience reflects his relatively recent switch to the Samoan cause rather than any lack of rugby pedigree.

A former New Zealand Sevens internatio­nal who once harboured ambitions to play for the All Blacks, NanaiWilli­ams has been a standout performer for the twice Super Rugby champion Chiefs over the last few seasons.

After failing to make the All Black team, he decided to play for the country of his heritage after taking the advice of his provincial coach Tana Umaga. He then made the trip to Suva for his Test debut against the All Blacks.

That match, which New Zealand won 25-16, put him against his cousin Sonny Bill Williams, who may have the edge in stature and power but would have to concede he was second best in the family when it came to foot speed.

“He’s a very dangerous player,” said former Highlander­s coach Jamie Joseph. “He played at fullback today but he could play anywhere really. I’ve been on the wrong end of Tim NanaiWilli­ams as a Super Rugby coach – he’s just a very good rugby player.”

Joseph was speaking after taking charge of the Barbarians for a 27-24 victory over the Samoans at the end of last month. “Most of the team are starting to get around him and hopefully back him up when they need to,” Samoan coach Stephen Betham said.

“That’s just his second game but we need to work together as a team. Sometimes Tim will do something out of the ordinary and if the other players can’t read his body language then it won’t come off.” – Reuters

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