Sonny Bill Williams is thankful to be injury-free at the right time and ready to play his best rugby of a fluctuating year at the World Cup.
Niggles have dogged the powerhouse All Blacks inside centre in 2015, leaving him firmly behind veteran Ma’a Nonu in the pecking order heading into their opening game against Argentina in London on September 20.
Williams hasn’t played more than three games in a row all year.
The first half of his Chiefs Super Rugby campaign was dotted by absences for injuries to his calf, knee and head. He missed four successive games near the end of the competition with a back niggle.
Modest Test performances against Samoa in Apia and Australia in Sydney blended with an exceptional performance against the Pumas in Christchurch, where the trademark linebreaks and offloads were on show.
The 30-year-old admits it has been a frustrating season but says the World Cup is providing some light at the end of the tunnel.
“I feel like I’ve played pretty good considering the few injuries I’ve seemed to pick up,” he told AAP.
“That’s been disappointing but now I’m not just physically but mentally feeling the best I’ve felt all year so I’m really ready to get out there and take my shot if I get it.”
Williams played five games at the 2011 World Cup but three of them were off the reserve bench, including late cameos in the semi-final and final.
The cross-code international admits Nonu’s consistently high standards this year hands him another battle to earn starting side status.
“But I’m confident that if I get that 12 jersey, I’ll be able to handle it, just like every other player in the squad.
Williams says the selection of raw but electric wingers Waisake Naholo and Nehe Milner-Skudder suggests the All Blacks coaches are planning an expansive approach to the tournament.
He says he wants to be part of that style and says the entire squad have spoken about their chance to make Cup history in England.
“The big thing about this World Cup is that no New Zealand side has gone to Europe and won.
“We’ve got a big job on our hands but we can’t look too far ahead.”