SBW still one of best, says Wallaby Hunt

Brisbane City's Karmichael Hunt...preparing to face the All Blacks. Photo: Brendan Hertel, QRU
Brisbane City's Karmichael Hunt...preparing to face the All Blacks. Photo: Brendan Hertel, QRU QRU - Brendan Hertel

Karmichael Hunt has scoffed at any hint that the impact of Sonny Bill Williams is waning at 32 by saying the All Blacks danger man is still "every coach's nightmare".

His competitive instincts have Hunt relishing any chance at a super-sub role against the All Blacks backline for the first time in Saturday night's showdown at Suncorp Stadium.

It has been a checkered year for Williams who produced one of 2017's biggest games to inspire the Blues' upset of the British and Irish Lions before a shoulder charge send-off in the Test lost by the All Blacks later in the tour.

In his most recent Test, the Springboks did one of their best jobs of limiting the impact of his 11 gallops when powerhouse Malcolm Marx twice forced penalties over Williams at the tackle.

The best reflection of the mature Williams is being more than happy to play his role to win Tests when other backs like Reiko Ioane, Beauden Barrett and Damian McKenzie are the dazzlers.

"Sonny is Sonny ... he's a special player," Hunt said of the two-code star.

"His off-load game is unparalleled because when he's getting balls away falling to the ground or from the ground it's beauty to watch."

For anyone other than an opponent in a Bledisloe Cup Test that is.

The effort, precision moments and heart in the near-miss 35-29 loss to the All Blacks in Dunedin in August don't give the Wallabies any sort of headstart at the kick-off on Saturday.

"All the hard effort starts again and with Sonny that means putting the body on the line every time," Hunt said. "Regardless of what homework you do, he'll always be coming back at you for 80 minutes ... that's his make-up.

"He's a coach's nightmare. What makes his off-loading game so dangerous is playing good defence on him but also never leaving those running lanes spare either side of him where his teammates time their runs in support."

Kurtley Beale will have to step up just as he did in Dunedin. He made one jolting front-on tackle on Williams and grabbed a clean rip turnover in another when the 42-Test All Black was charging at the line from a scrum win.

Jim Tucker

Topics:  all blacks bledisloe cup karmichael hunt sonny bill williams wallabies

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