Sydney Roosters coach Trent Robinson believes star back-rower Sonny Bill Williams is ahead of schedule in his transition back to the NRL.
After coming off the bench in the Roosters’ defeat to South Sydney in round one, Williams was on the field from start to finish in the 16-14 win over the Warriors in Auckland on Saturday night.
“He’s probably further than I would expect him to be after two games,” Robinson said.
“Just to leave him out there for 80 minutes after a short preparation back in rugby league – I think he’s done exceptionally well, so very happy.”
Robinson said he never considered giving Williams a spell at Eden Park.
“I had a lot of faith in what he was doing,” he said.
“That’s why he played the 80 minutes, which is a great sign for a coach – to have someone like that out there for that time.”
Williams produced 20 tackles, 11 carries for 89 metres and also two offloads, the second a superb effort that sent centre Michael Jennings clear.
Only some great defence by Glen Fisiiahi and Kevin Locke prevented Jennings scoring the try that would have kicked the Roosters 10 points clear with 12 minutes to go.
Robinson praised Williams’ own defensive input on the left edge in combination with Jennings and five-eighth James Maloney, as well as his workrate.
“I thought he defended really, really well, and he had some tough carries,” he said.
“He doesn’t shirk the work. He got in there and carried out the yardage for us. He played some nice footy.”
Williams also featured in a couple of moments involving young Warriors centre Konrad Hurrell that brought the crowd alive.
Early in the first half, he took exception to being pushed as he was running back into position for a restart.
The part-time boxer turned and shaped up to Hurrell, only to be held back by Warriors prop Sam Rapira.
Minutes later, when Hurrell ran at him, Williams pulled off what seemed like a fair strip of the ball, only for the Roosters to be penalised for a two-man tackle.