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Roosters coy on SBW's halves chances

Sydney Roosters skipper Anthony Minichiello believes star back-rower Sonny Bill Williams has the ability to be an NRL playmaker.
Roosters coy on SBW's halves chances
by AAP

By Joe Barton

SYDNEY, June 20 AAP - Sydney Roosters skipper Anthony Minichiello believes star back-rower Sonny Bill Williams has the ability to be an NRL playmaker.

But the Roosters won't reveal whether Williams will take over the five-eighth role on Friday night, when he'll face Canterbury at ANZ Stadium for the first time since walking out on the Bulldogs in 2008.

Williams has been named to start in the back-row, but is strongly tipped to replace Mitchell Aubusson in the halves where he would partner No.7 Daniel Mortimer.

The dual international sparked the sluggish Roosters to life shortly before halftime in Sunday's 23-12 loss to the Warriors, getting the ball at first receiver.

The 108kg Williams had success running the ball and also with a deft short-passing game, which would be valuable for a team missing starting halves Mitchell Pearce and James Maloney to NSW State of Origin duties.

"Obviously he can ball-play, there's no doubt about that," Minichiello said before training on Thursday.

"When he plays at lock he plays a role as a bit of a ballplayer at stages.

"I don't think his game will change too much."

Minichiello admitted Williams had spent limited time at first receiver at training this week, but said it was no different to when he lines up at lock or the second-row.

"He's going to be playing that lock for us and sometimes back-row, where we need to get us on the front foot," he said.

"And then he can ball play when he sees fit. He's pretty skilful."

Minichiello said Williams, who scored a brace of tries against the Bulldogs at Allianz Stadium in the Roosters' 38-0 rout earlier this year, had extra focus about facing his old club on their home turf.

"I'm not too sure (if he's nervous). He's definitely focused," he said.

"He's focused going into every game, but obviously there's a bit more focus going into this one because it's his past team."




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