Tamaiti Williams’ father, Johnny, had some tough love advice for him when they were living in Perth. Johnny believed that Tamaiti needed to toughen up, so he decided to introduce him to the rough world of rugby league. Today, Tamaiti is grateful for the switch, but he still remains a fan of rugby league and will be cheering for New South Wales in the State of Origin game.
“I grew up playing rugby league. I used to play union on Saturdays and league on Sundays,” said Williams. He wasn’t a fancy ball-playing back; he was more of a powerful player who loved to charge straight through the middle. “I was a bit scared in the younger grades, but my dad put me in league so I could learn how to tackle.”
Williams and his family moved back to New Zealand when he was 16, which turned out to be a pivotal moment in his rugby career. He attended St Kentigern College in Auckland on a scholarship and honed his skills. If he had stayed in Perth, he could have been drawn into the Australian rugby system. However, his goal has always been to play for the All Blacks.
“For me to have the opportunity to one day hopefully put on the black jersey, that’s pretty cool for our family,” Williams said.
Joining the Crusaders academy in Christchurch in 2019 proved to be a turning point for Williams. His hard work and dedication paid off when he was named in the All Blacks squad for the Rugby Championship. The injuries to other props in the Crusaders squad this season opened up more opportunities for him to showcase his skills.
Williams has impressed coach Scott Robertson with his performances and is expected to start as the loosehead prop for the final against the Chiefs. Despite having to work harder to maintain his fitness due to his bulky frame, Williams has played over 800 minutes this season and has proven himself on the field.
When he joins the All Blacks setup, Williams will reunite with former Crusaders forwards coach Jason Ryan. They first worked together in 2021, and now they will continue their partnership at the national level.
The All Blacks squad announcement was a special moment for Williams, who was surrounded by his partner and his emotional parents. He is excited about the opportunity to represent New Zealand and hopes to make his family proud.
The All Blacks squad also includes other new caps who have earned their spots, such as Samipeni Finau, Eroni Narawa, Dallas McLeod, and Cam Roigard. Head coach Ian Foster believes that this group of players will bring confidence and excitement to the Rugby Championship.
The squad announcement comes ahead of the Rugby World Cup, and Foster plans to use the championship as an opportunity for the team to grow and prepare for the World Cup in France.
New Zealand faces a challenging program in the Rugby Championship, but Foster has cast a wide net in naming a large squad to assess as many players as possible. The squad will be trimmed down after the championship in preparation for the World Cup.
With his chance to represent the All Blacks, Tamaiti Williams is determined to make the most of this opportunity and continue to prove himself as a formidable prop in the world of rugby.
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Hasibur Rahaman is a passionate sports journalist. He covers everything from cricket to field hockey, delivering up-to-the-minute updates and in-depth analysis of sporting events, both within India and on the international stage.