Rugby League World Cup: New Zealand players feel Burgess-Williams clash will be a cracker

Last Updated: 19/11/13 10:54pm

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Shaun Johnson (r) gets to grips with Sonny Bill Williams in a New Zealand training session

Shaun Johnson (r) gets to grips with Sonny Bill Williams in a New Zealand training session

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The box-office contest between Sam Burgess and Sonny Bill Williams will be well worth the wait, according to New Zealand's Shaun Johnson.

England's Burgess and Kiwi figurehead Williams are Sydney club rivals when the Rabbitohs take on the Roosters in Australia's NRL.

And on Saturday the two are primed for a mouth-watering and potentially explosive clash at Wembley Stadium in the Rugby League World Cup semi-final.

Kiwi playmaker Johnson can see the funny side of the ever-increasing fervour surrounding the eagerly-anticipated match-up - but also believes the showdown can live up to the hype.

"Isn't Sam Burgess marking me?" joked the Auckland-born 23-year-old. "It's going to be physical - I'm going to flog him!

"There are tough match-ups all over the field. But in fairness it's going to be two massive players going at each other, both desperate to do well for their sides, and it will be seriously intriguing."


England's host-nation factor has been discussed at length by the Kiwi squad this week, with in-form wing Roger Tuivasa-Sheck keen to take the tournament buzz in his stride.

The 20-year-old is New Zealand's top try-scorer in the competition with six so far, but concedes that his first experience of London has left him wide-eyed.

"I've been buzzing on the whole thing, riding the bus through town, looking at London Bridge, the London Eye and all that," he explained.

"Then it's looking at the players I'm sat next to as well, and that's just as exciting.

"I was reading the other day - Wembley has the world record for the most toilets at a sports ground!

"It's easy to let all this get on top of you, but the coaches and senior players are keeping us calm and relaxing us."

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