The battle for the no. 12 jersey in the All Blacks’ squad is the stuff of dreams, with Sonny Bill Williams and Ma’a Nonu fighting it out. But who will come out on top? Simon van Ryn discusses.
Sonny Bill Williams has been stealing all the headlines with his majestic distribution and impact on the All Blacks’ attack on their first two games of Rugby World Cup 2015. His game is starting to hum along nicely and it would take someone special to prevent him playing out the tournament in the No 12 jersey.
Enter Ma’a Nonu.
With his 100th Test cap in sight, Nonu is one man that won’t give up his spot without a fight. One does not earn 99 Tests for New Zealand without being a world class player, and Ma’a will certainly get another opportunity to show why he is rated the best 2nd five in world rugby.
Ma’a Nonu and Sonny Bill Williams have the ability to take your breath away. They are both powerful specimans on attack and defence and they combine this with an uncanny ability to break through stonewall defences with ease.
Whether it’s from a bust inside their own 22 or through a skip pass to the outside – these two blokes know how to turn it on when it matters most.
On form SBW is more likely to start against Georgia on Saturday but come the playoffs it would be very suprising to see him remain there. Sonny is an extraordinary athlete, but this writer believes the selectors will go into the business end of the tournament with the players they have trusted in the past, i.e. Ma’a Nonu. He started in their last World Cup triumph and his form has rarely wavered throughout 2015.
Nonu’s consistency and leadership in the first half when opposition players are fresh and in tune will be vital for New Zealand moving forward. His style of game will suit the All Blacks in the tighter exchanges. Bringing Sonny on later in the game when the match opens up will be more effective in comparison to having Nonu in that role.
Providing spark off the bench would give New Zealand the perfect one-two punch that is unmatched in World Cup rugby. Will this be enough to win the golden carrot at the end of the tournament?
This writer truly hopes so.
This writer would like to congratulate Ma’a Nonu on his upcoming 100th test. Raise your bat with pride champ because you are truly one of a kind, an exceptional warrior of the game and it has been a pleasure to watch you throughout your colourful career.
Here is a video match up to remind you how special he really is.
Ma’a Nonu: (99 All Blacks Tests):