Sonny Bill Williams, the Kiwi who can do it all; World Cup winner in both rugby union and league, and seven wins from seven fights in boxing. The New Zealander’s record is simply astonishing, a predictably successful future after being labelled a “freakish sporting talent” when at school. If there was a sport to be played, Williams was simply the best at it.
There’s therefore no surprise that the 31-year-old can pick and choose which professional sport he fancies participating in when it suits. Following the successful 2015 rugby union World Cup, Williams turned his attention to the 7s circuit, in a bid to compete and win gold for New Zealand at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
Unsurprisingly, Williams was selected, but he sadly tore his achilles tendon playing in the tournament.
Following the Kiwi’s time on the sidelines, he’s now back amongst the union scene after his selection in the Auckland Blues squad for this weekend’s (08/04) super rugby game against Otago Highlanders.
With the visit of the British and Irish Lions this summer, Williams is looking to gain a place for the All Blacks hosting the travelling party; agree with our starting Lions XV:
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1st: Team SoloMid
Following their dominant showing at Rift Rivals, Team SoloMid should once again be considered the favorites in NA. With string laners and great macro play, TSM have shown significant growth already in the split. The return of Doublelift and the emphasis on improvement has paid dividends for the reigning NA LCS Champions, and could easily lead to another title.
SKT MSI Stage Exit
Source: Riot Games Flickr
5th: Team Dignitas
Team Dignitas may be the biggest wildcard of the upcoming split, a team loaded with potential and talent who had a very tumultuous first split. The addition of subs Shrimp and Big should provide flexibility to a roster that has continued to synergize as the season progressed. If LOD is able to keep up with the other ADCs in NA, Dignitas will be a team to watch out for.
The surprise of the season so far has been the resurgence of Immortals behind their new jungler Xmithie. Maintaining the top spot for most of the season so far, Immortals find themselves coming off their first 0-2 week. Whether this is an anamoly, or a sign of things to come, Immortals have proven they can compete with NA's best.
Coming off a 2-1 series victory over Team SoloMid, Cloud9 had a less than impressive showing at Rift RIvals. With the news that the majority of the team was sick at the event, we will cut C9 a break and still have them as a top three team in NA. If they can find consistency from their two top laners, Cloud9 could challenge for the NA LCS crown once again.
Scrum-half: Conor Murray
Partnerships are crucial in the backs, and the Irish half-backs are the best in the North. Image Source: Twitter
Following their third place finish in the Spring Split, do not expect much drop off from Phoenix1 in the upcoming split. NA MVP Arrow should excel in a meta that emphasizes ADCs, and both Ryu and Zig have proven to be more than competent solo laners. The only unknown for Phoenix1 seems to be new support Shady, who was given the starting position despite his poor performances near the end of the last split.
7th: Team EnVyUs
Team NV could be a dark horse in NA moving forward, with a star jungler and consistent bot lane play that has led to significant improvement from their last place finish in the Spring Split. WIth both Pirean and Nisqy showing they can hold their own in the mid lane, NV should finish the season as a contender for a playoff spot.
10th: Team Liquid
Team Liquid may have hit rock bottom halfway through the second split of the 2017 season. With constant substitutions in their starting lineup, Team Liquid have yet to find the right combination to push them forward. For Team Liquid, it is time to start thinking about next season already.
2nd: Counter Logic Gaming
Expectations were high for Counter Logic Gaming entering the split after the arrival of Dardoch, and those expectation have been mostly met as CLG currently sits atop the NA LCS standings. With greatly improved play from top laner Darshan, CLG have become a favorite to capture another NA LCS title. Do not be surprised to find them as one of the two teams playing in the Finals in Boston.
It is good to see Williams on the union side of the sport, following his switch back to league after the World Cup. In a game where Williams’ skill set can be on full show from the offloading to the running game, his skills are far more utilised in rugby union compared to rugby league.
The physical nature, and limiting rules endorsed in the game of league has allowed Williams to become renowned for his shoulder charges and physical aspect he has to his game; a factor he’s managed to bring to the boxing ring.
But his trickery, his vision, and reading of the game is what makes Williams so good in union. Versatile, a player who can play in midfield, on the wings or at full-back; a natural understanding of the sport and how to manage a game. Plus, Williams is a marketing guru for the game, and could prove a brilliant PR tool this summer in New Zealand:
“His status as the most talked-about figure in Australasian sport arises from his fusion of the talent of [Lionel] Messi with the marketability of [David] Beckham.”
Oliver Brown, the Telegraph
The marketability and popularity the Kiwi has stretches to the boxing ring; able to sell out crowds without being a ‘big name’ in the sport itself. Williams’ record of seven wins from seven, including three knockouts, highlights how the All Black is not just a Freddie Flintoff-esque figure wanting a pay check, and to try his hand in something different.
He’s a serious competitor in a totally different sport. A warrior between in the ropes, and on the rugby field.
Whether or not Steve Hansen selects Sonny Bill this coming summer, the 6 foot 4 phenomenal athlete has to go down as one of the greatest all-round sportsmen to ever grace the world of sport.