Williams happy as ambassador

Bryan Williams claps the competitors in the stairs challenge at Forsyth Barr Stadium earlier this...
Bryan Williams claps the competitors in the stairs challenge at Forsyth Barr Stadium earlier this week. Photo: Peter McIntosh
Bryan Williams says watching all the competitors take part at the New Zealand Masters Games  motivates him to get involved. However,  a third hip replacement and  other commitments means the mind is willing but the body is not always  keen.

Williams, the former All Black and top coach, is the ambassador for the New Zealand Masters Games this week, along with former Silver Fern Jodi Brown.

Williams (67) had viewed many sports in the games but was a watcher at this stage rather than a participant.

"I play a wee bit of bowls and also a bit of golf, a 28 handicap, at the moment," he said.

"I’d love to do a bit more but I’ve just had my third hip replacement, about five months ago, so I’ve been struggling a bit since then . . . I’ve got a wee gym at home, where I can do a few weights and I’ve also got a bike which I ride round the park."

The hip replacement stems  from when he dislocated his hip  playing for the All Blacks against France in 1977.Williams said his main job these days with wife Lesley was to baby-sit their 13 grandchildren.

He said it was good to come to Dunedin and have a week off. Williams, who played 113 matches for the All Blacks and scored 66 tries in that time, is still heavily involved in the sport.

He has held every role possible at the Ponsonby club in Auckland and is now the club’s ambassador.

Williams, of Samoan extraction, was the first major All Black of Pacific Island descent, and said that made him proud.

"I was a bit of a trailblazer back in those days. But what began as a trickle has became an absolute flood now these days.

"The scrutiny levels the guys are under now are so much higher. The physicality has increased but it is well contained.  They can’t get away with what we used to get away with when we played."

He said the skill levels were so much higher than when he played, and it was great game to watch.

Club rugby was dwindling, he said, but was always going to happen when the game went professional.

"They added that extra tier; you have club rugby, provincial, Super Rugby and test rugby now. Club rugby now is almost regarded as irrelevant. It’s very much a participant sport now."

Ponsonby was still a strong club with 40 junior and 10 senior teams, he said.Williams was saddened to hear of the  death  of former Otago All Black Gary Seear on Thursday.

He said Seear was a great tourist.

All Black reunion dinners were a great way to catch up with old team-mates and Williams said he kept in touch with the likes of Grant Batty and Bruce Robertson.

Williams was an ambassador last year at the World Masters Games in Auckland and was glad to accept the role in Dunedin.

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