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Page last updated at 11:03 GMT, Thursday, 3 February 2011

All Black Ali Williams impressed by Nottingham

Ali Williams
Williams has now returned to Super 15 side Auckland Blues

By Sam Edwards

New Zealand forward Ali Williams said his month-long spell with Nottingham has convinced him that the Green & Whites are capable of winning promotion to the Premiership.

Williams is slowly working his way back towards full fitness and a place in the All Blacks' World Cup squad after an injury-ravaged two years.

And although the 29-year-old's main goal was to regain fitness, he said he has been won over by the club.

"I'm definitely a Nottingham fan. The shirt will take pride of place on my mantelpiece in my bar," the lock told BBC Radio Nottingham.

"The infrastructure here is fantastic. It's a club that I feel can achieve promotion. Why not?

"I wish the club all the best and I know that if they set their sights high they will achieve great honours."

Given his 61 caps for the All Blacks and his reputation as a joker, the comment could be taken tongue-in-cheek, but the 6ft 7in second row clearly holds a soft spot for the city.

"I've loved my time here in Nottingham," Williams added. "The lads are a special bunch of guys with a lot of character - Green & Whites all the way."

Director of rugby Glenn Delaney was also quick to praise Williams, suggesting that his fellow Kiwi will continue to have links with the club.

I believe I'm over injury now and it's all go in New Zealand

Ali Williams

"The key thing is that Ali Williams' involvement here has not finished and I think there will be a legacy," the Nottingham chief said.

"He'll continue to stay in touch, and when I'm back in New Zealand I'll go to see him. Ali has an affinity here now. He's enjoyed Nottingham and the people and earned a lot of respect."

And Williams remains grateful to the Green & Whites for allowing him the chance to work his fitness and match sharpness away from the limelight and intensity of top-flight competition.

"I've got a lot out of this four weeks and I thank the club for helping me," he said.

"I believe I'm over injury now and it's all go in New Zealand."

Williams will be 30 when his country hosts the World Cup this autumn, and it is likely to be his third and final chance of lifting the Webb Ellis Trophy.

But he remains realistic about his chances of a call-up and wants to take things slowly.

"I've got small steps with the Super 15 first to see where that takes me," he commented. "Rugby is one of those sports which is week-on-week and you're only judged by your last game."

Something he is a lot more confident on though, is New Zealand's chance at winning the World Cup for the first time since the inaugural competition in 1987.

"I wouldn't play for the All Blacks if I didn't think we would win it. We can do a New Zealand-England final, just as long as New Zealand win."


Williams gets to know Nottingham

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