Pinetree had the paw, SBW has the claw.

Remember that iconic 1970 footage of Colin Meads in South Africa, sidekick Grahame Thorne in tow, mesmerising the Border defence with the ball like a peanut in his right mitt.

Forty years on, Sonny Bill Williams is doing a decent impersonation of the great man. Frequently.

Jonah used to clasp the pill in one duke too, but he scarcely looked to pass or needed to. Every now and then there was a deft offload or skyhook lob when the big man was squeezed for room but generally he ploughed on, over or through tacklers with devastating effect.

Williams is the hybrid, a fascinating mix of skill and power. He is an unpolished product, but clearly learning about rugby at such a rate of knots that, if his progress continues, he looms as a great weapon for the All Blacks.

On this tour he has shown he is too dangerous for the Home Unions to contain. He is 1.91m tall and nudges the scales to about 110kg and when those statistics are packaged around his speed, power and range of handling skills, it is a fiery concoction. Defenders are finding they need to double-team him and that creates all sorts of space for the All Blacks.

Williams' mesmeric single-handed carry can also draw defenders away from their task of subduing the midfielder and if they are distracted he will punish them somehow. Usually with an offload.

One extraordinary flick pass against Scotland at Murrayfield yesterday held two defenders and launched Mils Muliaina to the tryline. It is Williams' special trait, his signature move. It is the way he plays. Meads, Lomu and others like Alan Sutherland carried the pill in one hand. It was exhilarating to watch, impossible to replicate unless you had mitts the size of small pizzas. But none of them had the reverse flick, the offload which makes Williams such a threat in contact.

Forget all the shenanigans about Williams' messy early exit from league, his unbecoming management and indelicate courting from the rugby hierarchy. This bloke has immense rugby nous. The All Black selectors knew it, they wanted his talent, they were anxious to refine and polish it.

Williams may look better because of the high quality of the All Blacks than he will next year at the Crusaders. Then again, playing outside Daniel Carter and inside Robbie Fruean in the new Super rugby series, he could be even more lethal.

In just two tests, Williams has spiked our interest more than any other newcomer since Sione Lauaki smashed his way into prominence for the Pacific Islanders demanding an All Black call-up in 2005. The burly No 8 did not help himself when he made the grade, was not handled well and spluttered into and out of international rugby. Williams is already different. He has shown an ability to cope with the escalating attention, the demands of switching codes and country, life in the fishbowl world of All Black rugby, the trappings which come with an introduction to the black jersey. He has coped with the second five-eighths and centre roles though he looks more suited to the No 12 jersey.

He probably feels calmer defending in that role while his array of attacking skills will always unsettle the opposition. They cannot drift off him, but if they pay him too much attention, he can still burn them with the backhand flip offloads to trailing teammates or the wide passes.

Containing Pinetree or Jonah at the peak of their powers would have been frightening, bottling up SBW might be just as alarming.