Sonny Bill Williams will be good value for money in Japan,
Eddie Jones says.
Japan coach Eddie Jones has tipped Sonny Bill Williams to
be a knockout hit in Japanese rugby after the boxing All
Black's big-money loan to Panasonic Wild Knights.
Williams, also New Zealand's heavyweight boxing champion,
left the All Blacks and Waikato Chiefs for a 12-match
contract in Japan worth a reported $100,000 per appearance.
"He's just played two absolutely outstanding tests against
Australia and with his profile he will bring an enormous
amount of interest," Jones told Reuters.
"To have a regular All Black, and one who's maybe even a
little more special, with his background in rugby league and
the boxing, come in is tremendous for Japanese rugby."
Williams will sit out Saturday's Top League opener against
Ricoh Black Rams after helping world champions New Zealand
crush Australia 22-0 to retain the Bledisloe Cup last
Jones backed the 27-year-old centre to win over sceptics
ready to label Williams, who has a history of switching clubs
and codes, an extravagance.
"I've only met him a couple of times but he seems like a
humble guy and he always puts his body on the line, be it for
the Chiefs or the All Blacks," said Jones.
"If Panasonic are willing to pay that sort of money for him
to play, good luck to him. I think he'll be good value for
Panasonic's next game is on Sept. 9 against NTT
Communications Shining Arcs in Sapporo.
Jones, who took over as Japan coach after last year's World
Cup, made no secret of the fact that taking the "Brave
Blossoms" to the next level was a work in progress.
"The reality is Japan haven't won a World Cup game for 20
years," said the Australian, who took over the job from
former All Black John Kirwan in December.
"The picture's not great but we're trying to maximise Japan's
strengths with quick, fit and skilful players. They've always
been admired for their inventiveness and courage."
Japan's one World Cup win in 24 matches came against Zimbabwe
Kirwan's target of two wins at the World Cup crumbled to dust
as they were beaten by hosts New Zealand, France and Tonga
before drawing 23-23 with Canada.
"It's about taking the small steps to improve," said Jones.