Tim Nanai-Williams' versatility is such that it was no surprise to hear his name crop up in the Chiefs' first five conversation this week.

He may not have worn the No10 jersey at any level for at least three seasons, but Nanai-Williams can play just about anywhere in the backline.

Whether on the wing - where he will be tonight against the Force in Hamilton - in midfield or at fullback, Nanai-Williams quickly adapts and always emerges as one of the Chiefs' most potent attacking weapons.

So it was entirely reasonable for the 25-year-old to be mentioned among his side's numerous options to replace Aaron Cruden, though he would appear to be fourth in line behind the McKenzie brothers and Andrew Horrell.


Despite having split his time at the Chiefs in jerseys 11-15, and despite having largely played fullback for Counties Manukau in recent seasons, Nanai-Williams was unperturbed at the prospect of yet another position shift.

"I've played first-five here and there," he said. "I wouldn't mind. Wherever the boys need me, I'll make sure I do my best to help us get that win.

"Wherever I play, I always tell the coaches I don't mind as long as I can play a part for the team."

That attitude has made Nanai-Williams an invaluable member of the Chiefs squad, and he said it was the attitude of the coaches that ensured his effectiveness no matter where he lined up.

Rather than completely overhaul his game depending on the positional requirements, Nanai-Williams is given something approaching a free rein.

Even when on the wing, he will often be found at first or second receiver, and he is able to inject himself into the game as he sees fit.

"They give me a licence to do whatever and that's quite pleasing," Nanai-Williams said. "Not many coaches can tell you, 'get out there and do whatever you want'. That helped me out last week to get into the game."

His spark with ball in hand was instantly apparent in last week's win over the Crusaders. He showed no signs of rust from sitting out the previous three matches after breaking his finger in South Africa.


The timing of that injury-enforced break proved fortuitous, giving him a chance to rest a couple of other ailments and recapture his electric best.

"It was a little bit [frustrating] but I knew my body wasn't in the right place to be playing," he said.

"I had a few injuries and my calves still weren't as good as they were, so the finger just gave me a couple of weeks to get everything right.

"My calf, my knee feels way better and I feel a lot sharper now. I've been busting my arse the last three or four weeks to get right and get the little things right. Last week I was happy with my game but there's a lot to improve."

Cruden met a surgeon in Auckland on Wednesday and has arranged to have a knee reconstruction early next month.