Opinion: Sopoaga selection will bring the best out of Sonny Bill Williams

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The combination between Sonny Bill Williams and Lima Sopoaga for the third Bledisloe Test in Brisbane means there's an element of pressure on both to perform well.

Williams also took a cheeky dig at Crotty after he supposedly beat him in this morning's power session.
Source: 1 NEWS

The All Blacks coaches know it's well documented that Williams is overdue for a big attacking performance and they're hoping the selection of Sopoaga at first five can aid that.

Williams has been a shadow of his former self in 2017.

His handling has been strangely out of sorts, but he's put in exceptional performances on defence in consecutive starts - which often cover up his subpar attacking performances.

This is perhaps where the composure of Sopoaga in the no.10 jersey could help revitalise the dual international, even if it is just his second Test start.

Firstly, Sopoaga has the ability to create time on the ball.

This should give Williams a few more seconds to get his own timing right and positional himself slightly better.

Sopoaga hardly ever looks flustered and his kicking game is certainly his strength, especially his reliable goal kicking.

So what's really happened to SBW then?

The problem this season for Williams appears to be timing with his first-five.

It looks as though there's uncertainty around what Beauden Barrett is going to do under pressure and there have been almost zero crash balls or cuts for Williams this year.

Sopoaga has been named to start at first-five against the Wallabies in Brisbane this Saturday.
Source: 1 NEWS

If anything, Williams almost needs a visual stimulus of himself playing well and perhaps a reminder of his attacking capabilities.

One of his main strengths is the ability to keep the ball alive while in contact is the area.

We saw this in his game against the Lions for the Blues, where his offload in the dying minutes proved a match winner, along with seeing it many times in previous outings.

Williams' best matches for the All Blacks at second-five have often come when Aaron Cruden was running the ball to the line and offloading to the explosive Williams inside.

If Sopoaga can channel that with precise timing, then the attacking Sonny Bill Williams may be unlocked for 2017.

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