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All Blacks great Sonny Bill Williams insists that the New Zealand teams still reign supreme, even though they have encountered some stubborn Australian resistance this season.
Three of the top-four on the Super Rugby Pacific ladder are Kiwi sides but the Hurricanes and particularly the Highlanders have struggled in 2022.
In recent campaigns, the likes of the Reds, Brumbies and Waratahs rarely got close to their trans-Tasman rivals, but that has changed this year.
The bigger picture
“I think the Kiwis are still in a time and space of dominance,” Williams told the Sydney Morning Herald.
“But it’s always good to see the Aussie teams go well, in particular the Brumbies holding the flag high for Australian rugby. When I think of the big picture and rugby improving at an international level in Australia, you always want those Super Rugby teams to do well. It’s good to see.
“When it comes to Australia and New Zealand in any sport there is an added edge of not backing down and not wanting to surrender.
“Working with Stan Sport and seeing the struggles Australian rugby are dealing with at the moment, it’s great to see because you need these teams playing well to get eyes on the TV and more players playing the game.”
Williams has been particularly impressed – as well as surprised – by the form of the Waratahs, who did not win a match in 2021.
They have responded with seven victories in 11 games this season, including a ‘shock’ triumph over over the mighty Crusaders, which leaves them in fifth position in the table.
“Good on them,” the former All Blacks centre said. “(Head coach Darren) Coleman’s probably brought more of a simplicity approach to the Waratahs and how they play and their structure. You can see the players just look happy.
“At the Waratahs it’s a bit like New Zealand rugby. You always want the Blues to play well because when the Blues are playing well, it’s a sign of how good New Zealand rugby is. If the Waratahs are going well, it’s the same thing.
“It was a great win against the Crusaders. I was shocked like a lot of others but it’s just good to see, bro.”
Williams also expects the Australian players to take those Super Rugby improvements into the national set-up.
They take on England in their July series before they head into the Rugby Championship and Bledisloe Cup.
“I think from the improvements we’ve seen at a Super Rugby level, it’s always going to translate on the international scene,” he added.
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The article Sonny Bill Williams: New Zealand rugby still dominant despite Australian improvements appeared first on Planetrugby.com.