De Allende enjoys playing SBW

Damian de Allende on the run for the Springboks against the All Blacks last year as Ardie Savea...
Damian de Allende on the run for the Springboks against the All Blacks last year as Ardie Savea gives chase. Photo: Getty Images
South Africa's Damian de Allende has off-loaded mixed feelings about his old foe All Black Sonny Bill Williams.

De Allende and Williams are known for memorable on-field battles in the centres over the years, and are set to face off in another one on Saturday when the Springboks take on New Zealand in their Rugby World Cup 2019 opener.

Although expressing great respect for his All Black opponent, de Allende made clear he won't make anything easy for Williams on Saturday.

"I always look forward to the challenge. I wouldn't say [we are] mates but we do have a chat after the game – but very casual," said de Allende. "I haven't met up with him off the field or anything like that.

"We have had some good tussles both at international and franchise level and there have been times I've done well against him.

"In the last few matches we have put Sonny Bill under a bit of pressure, but it is not just me who does that. It is as a team that we do that and on Saturday it is as a team we will be trying to put him under pressure again - if he plays.

"It is important we put him under pressure and keep him under pressure. He has a great offloading game and that makes him dangerous. He is also powerful in the contacts."

Williams who is well known for his skills on the field has shown himself to be just as impressive off it.

The former rugby league star, heavyweight boxer and Olympian with the All Blacks Sevens, made headlines four years ago when he gave his gold medal to a youngster who had been tackled by a security guard after he tried to run on to the pitch.

The 53-test All Black has also been on hand to support many communities such as the victims of the Christchurch attacks earlier this year.

Williams' off-field work is what has impressed de Allende the most.

"I do love playing him, as I have numerous times at all levels, and he presents an amazing challenge on the field," said de Allende. "He is great off the field too, what he has done for humanity [in his personal capacity] has been amazing and really praise-worthy."

The All Blacks and South Africa do battle in their first pool match of the Rugby World Cup on Saturday night New Zealand time.

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