Toovey happy with Williams’ strong return
Manly coach Geoff Toovey revealed Tony Williams only passed a fitness test just hours before inspiring his side to a 52-14 hammering of the Sydney Roosters to mark his return to the NSW squad in style.
Williams was man of the match at Allianz Stadium and played the full 80 minutes before being included in a 19-man squad on Sunday by Blues coach Ricky Stuart for the State of Origin decider in Brisbane.
Toovey said during the week he was reluctant to include the giant backrower in his side after he suffered a back injury five weeks ago in the Origin opener in Melbourne.
But Williams, who had not played for the Sea Eagles since round three following a seven-match suspension for a dangerous tackle on Cronulla Isaac De Gois, took just four minutes to make an impression, shrugging off Mitchell Pearce and Sam Perrett to set up Jorge Taufua for a try.
He then showed the skills of a halfback by chipping forward for Steve Matai to score and Toovey said the 23-year-old’s fine display vindicated the decision to play him.
“He didn’t train with us until yesterday and we had to wait until this morning to see how he pulled up,” Toovey said.
“If you have a valuable player like Tony Williams then you have to play him as quickly as you can.
“He got cleared by our medical staff who’ve worked tirelessly with him over the last few weeks.”
Toovey also denied he only played Williams to give him the opportunity to prove his fitness for the Blues and would not have selected him had there been doubts.
“Touch wood he doesn’t get injured again in State of Origin,” Toovey said.
“I am not concerned about Origin at all. I am concerned about the Manly football club and, more importantly, a players’ welfare. I would never risk him if he was still injured.”
Toovey also praised the performance of NSW backrower Anthony Watmough, who clocked up 147 metres and made 31 tackles, and skipper Jamie Lyon, who finished with a personal haul of 24 points.
However, he was frustrated with the manner in which his side allowed the Roosters back into the game after halftime before closing out the match with five unanswered tries.
“It was a frustrating game for me to watch in the sense that we dominated for periods, but we made a few mistakes and let them back into the match,” he said.
Roosters coach Brian Smith was full of praise for the Sea Eagles and said his men were always up against it conceding 24 points in the opening half hour.
“It was like almost we got punished for six points every time we didn’t do our stuff,” Smith said.
“But as bad as we were in our communication and decision making, I can’t help but admire what Manly did today.
“Execution-wise they were almost faultless … they were right on the money for everything that came to them and created plenty.
“They were too good for us and we’re hurting pretty badly.”© AAP 2013