Sonny Bill Williams. Picture: AFP PHOTO/ISAAC LAWRENCE
Sonny Bill Williams. Picture: AFP PHOTO/ISAAC LAWRENCE

Blues and All Black superstar Sonny Bill Williams will start against the Stormers on Friday night after being cleared of concussion.

The two-time World Cup winner’s presence will add thousands to the gate in a city where he is revered.

Williams has used his social media accounts to praise Cape Town and its fans‚ which will no doubt further endear him to the city’s rugby-loving public.

It is also a clever bit of public relations by Williams and the Blues to garner more support.

The New Zealand conference stragglers are in desperate need of a win to cling on to slim hopes of making the Super Rugby play-offs‚ and Sonny Bill’s charm offensive is a good ploy to mobilise Cape Town’s large New Zealand support base to go to Newlands for the game.

Blues assistant coach Steve Jackson warned that Sonny Bill was not at his absolute best after an injury-plagued season.

"SBW brings a decent body and is a superb athlete, isn’t he?" Jackson said. "He would be the first to say that he is still getting back to form though‚ but his mere presence on the paddock is important.

"The guys around him get up because of what he can do. We all know that SBW can offload‚ carry and tackle hard but he also talks well.

"He has been fantastic in the group and with a lot of young guys he has been a big influence. We have a good leadership group and they can bounce ideas off one another."

Head coach Tana Umaga warned that Newlands would be a tough test for his team despite the Stormers being on a four-match losing streak.

"We knew this back end of the season was full of challenges with our travel schedule‚" Umaga said.

"We have planned for it and we do have a number of players coming back from injury‚ and some hopefully ready to be considered back in New Zealand next week.

"The Stormers at Newlands are a formidable challenge. We’ve played well for the past month and need to continue to improve every game as we look to produce an 80-minute performance."

Jackson said the Blues were not reading much into the Stormers’ recent poor form‚ which resulted in record losses to the Crusaders and Highlanders on their recent tour.

TMG Digital

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