Williams praises Wilko
Cross-code convert hails the impact of England ace on his career
Last Updated: 02/11/10 11:54am
Cross-code convert Sonny Bill Williams has hailed the impact Jonny Willkinson on his career.
"Jonny has really helped me out and he is definitely one of the reasons why I am here where I am today."
Sonny Bill Williams Quotes of the week
Williams will make his All Blacks debut on the tour to Europe - with the 25-year-old in line to play some part against England at Twickenham on Saturday.
However Williams will be denied the chance of facing Wilkinson after a shoulder injury ruled the World Cup-winner out of the Investec Internationals.
Wilkinson took Williams under his wing at Toulon, with the duo forming a formidable pairing in the Top 14 last season.
And centre Williams has praised Wilkinson for helping him develop his game to go on to make the New Zealand squad.
"I feel for the man," he told Sky Sports News.
"He is a great bloke, really humble. He has really helped me out and he is definitely one of the reasons why I am here where I am today.
"I'm very disappointed for him but I will be catching up with him this week for a coffee and it will be good to see him."
While Williams will be denied a meeting with Wilkinson on the Twickenham turf, he could come up against former Kiwi team-mate Shontayne Hape.
The Bath centre has gone on to play for England after qualifying under the residency ruling despite having played rugby league alongside Williams for New Zealand.
"My first tour back in 2004, he was there," said Williams. "He is a great player, you just have to see how he plays. He is a big man and loves to get the ball."
Williams turned down a mega-money contract to stay at Toulon in a bid to secure a place in the New Zealand team ahead of the World Cup.
And having moved to Canterbury and the Crusaders, he is certain to get his chance on this tour - something Williams is relishing.
"I won't consider myself an All Black until I have played a game, so I'm definitely itching to out there.
"If it is not this week, then I will just keep doing what I did last week and trying to learn as much as I can.
"There's been a lot of information to take in but I think, so far, I'm happy with the way I'm going."