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Ex-All Black wants 140kg powerhouse prop unleashed on the Pumas and Springboks

By Ben Smith
Ofa Tu'ungafasi of the Blues and Tamaiti Williams of the Crusaders following the round 12 Super Rugby Pacific match between Crusaders and Blues at Orangetheory Stadium, on May 13, 2023, in Christchurch, New Zealand. (Photo by Joe Allison/Getty Images)

New Zealand’s propping stocks have taken a hit with the loss of Crusaders Fletcher Newell and George Bower to longer-term injuries with the All Blacks in need of extra cover for The Rugby Championship.

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While Newell is expected to recover in time for the Rugby World Cup, the form of Crusaders’ tighthead Tamaiti Williams has caught the eye of former All Black Jeff Wilson as a potential solution.

Williams has had consistent game time with injuries to three of his teammates, even logging a 73-minute performance against the Blues.

The 22-year-old is a strong ball carrying option with his 140kg frame a handful for opposition defences to bring down while he has been a decent scrummager.

The ex-All Black believed that his style of play would suit perfectly against two physical rivals who are first up opponents this year.

“We need to look at props,” Wilson said on Sky Sport’s The Breakdown.

“I can tell you why we are looking at props is because what we’ve got is back-to-back games in the Rugby Championship we’ve got Argentina in Argentina and then we come back and play at Mt Smart against the Springboks.

“I’m thinking they are going to need a number of guys in the squad, I don’t think they will all travel. I don’t think they will all go for the first game.

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“No Fletcher Newell, not available, so Tamaiti Williams is a guy who has put his hand up.

“Tighthead prop is an issue for us right now.”

During the All Blacks run of seven undefeated Tests down the stretch in 2022 it was Hurricanes’ prop Tyrel Lomax who established himself as the first-choice tighthead prop.

Highlanders prop Ethan de Groot packed down at loosehead with Chiefs hooker Samisoni Taukei’aho forming the starting front row.

That doesn’t seem likely to change unless injury strikes but the versatility of Williams could be a decisive factor for a bench spot with his ability to play both sides of the scrum.

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Williams seems suited to bring impact late off the bench for the All Blacks with all the tools at his disposal to cause some damage.

“What really stood out was when he had to go to the other side [of the scrum] against the Blues,” Ex-All Black Mils Muliaina said.

“We’ve seen how big he is, he is a big specimen that loves to get around the field.

“But mentally, to go to the other side of the scrum, that’s good.”

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1 Comment
b
by George! 418 days ago

He's getting stroppy and found that he can mix it with the big boys, go ya good thing!

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