Opta Feature: Sonny Bill Williams

Sonny Bill Williams is one of very few players to appear in World Cup finals in both rugby union and rugby league and later this year he will be hoping to add an Olympic gold medal to his trophy cabinet as he turns his hand to Rugby Sevens.

His phenomenal athletic prowess and stature combined with his tactical awareness and unrivalled skillset make him one of the most talented and in demand sportsmen on the planet.

The 30-year-old has played 33 matches for the All Blacks in the 15-man code, intermingling these caps with 12 appearances in the 13-man code for the Kiwis as well as successful forays into the world of heavyweight boxing.

This ability to re-focus his skills and adapt to different challenges is something many other players have struggled with. None more famously in recent years than England’s Sam Burgess, who brought similar skills when he crossed codes but found the demands of the change and the pressure thrust upon him too much and quickly reverted back to a career in the NRL with the Sydney Rabbitohs.

SBW’s skills in rugby are virtually unmatched, from the data below it is evident that his main strengths are his unique ability to offload the ball in contact as well as his aptitude to beat defenders. This menacing ball carrying talent paired with a ferocious tackling capability (92% success rate) make him the perfect all round player. Unsurprisingly this armoury of skills readily leads to points and indeed he has registered a try involvement (try scored or assisted) once every 100 minutes for the All Blacks, with that rate sitting at just over once every hour (61 mins) when you consider just his Rugby World Cup record.

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Having featured in Hong Kong, Wellington and Sydney so far (the latter two of which NZ won), Williams has amassed 18 appearances for the NZ Sevens team heading into the Singapore leg of the World Series. This valuable experience at the highest stage should provide him with the perfect bedrock to become a key player at the Rio Olympic Games as the All Blacks aim to win the inaugural Sevens gold medal. Having lifted the World Series crown on 12 of the 16 editions, and with a raft of super stars joining their already successful squad they will take some beating.

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