A fatigued Sonny Bill Williams has a new-found respect for sevens rugby specialists following his introduction to the abbreviated game.
Cross-code international Williams endured his first training camp under coach Sir Gordon Tietjens in Cambridge this week and reckons the 15-a-side players don’t know how good they have it.
Williams is pursuing a place in the All Blacks Sevens side to play at the Rio Olympics but says he must first come to grips with a sport in which he has little background.
That means learning the tactics and adjusting to the run-heavy fitness requirements demanded by veteran coach Tietjens.
“I thought the pre-season of rugby league was tough but here it is a whole new ball game,” he said.
“It is tough days but it is just a repetition every day. I’m lucky enough that they are easing me into it this week but it is still very tough.”
Williams says he has lost about 3kg since playing the last of his 33 All Blacks Tests – the World Cup final win over Australia at Twickenham.
He has faith in his ability to eventually adapt to sevens but admits the advice of teammates and Tietjens is proving invaluable.
“The big thing for me is just getting out there and doing it,” he said.
“I’ve got confidence I’ll be able to pick it up eventually and that’s the reason why I am a full-time Sevens player this year because I knew coming into it, it was going to be really tough and I had to give it my all.”
Williams is a chance to be selected for the next round of the world series, in Wellington on January 30-31, where he would play as a forward.
However, Tietjens says he wants to be sure Williams is up to speed before naming him.