Sonny Bill Williams is hoping to go from playing in front of a few hundred spectators in the rain at Bombay Rugby Club to facing Australia next weekend after the New Zealand centre lapped up a grassroots return on Saturday.
The cross-code powerhouse turned out for Counties B in an inter-squad match six weeks after his red card for a shoulder charge on British and Irish Lions wing Anthony Watson in the second Test.
Williams played 65 minutes on a very different stage from what he has become accustomed to at the small South Auckland rugby club, a week before he could do battle with the Wallabies in the Bledisloe Cup opener in Sydney.
The 32-year-old was cleared to face Michael Cheika's side following an appeal, as the All Blacks' 'game of three halves' against Taranaki and Counties Manukau on Friday was eventually deemed to count as the final match of his suspension.
Williams hopes Steve Hansen gives him the nod for the Trans-Tasman clash after letting off some steam in less salubrious surroundings than usual.
Massive thank you to Counties rugby B team for having me today. Good luck for the rest of the season boys pic.twitter.com/2XTwGmP42a— Sonny Bill Williams (@SonnyBWilliams) August 12, 2017
"I've put my best foot forward now and I've got to train hard and hopefully get up for selection," he said.
"I'll see how we go but it's going to be a tough battle over there. It's like my second home over there [Sydney]. My wife's from there and I always have good time when I go back so I'm looking forward to a bit more sunshine."
He added: "It was good to, A, get out and play the game that I love and, B, get back to some grassroots footy.
"I don't know how often the fields get looked after but it was pretty tough conditions out there. But it was good to play with the boys and get a hand on the ball.
"You chuck a bit of deep heat on before the game and you're ready to go. The boys were really good, I know a few of them and it was just good to get back out there."
23. August 2017
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