The Oita Stadium roof will be closed when the All Blacks play Canada tomorrow, but that isn't to say there won't be wet and difficult conditions as anyone who saw Scotland slide their way to victory over Manu Samoa at the enclosed Kobe Misake Stadium will attest.

That particular match, won 34-0 by Scotland and badly affected by the very high humidity inside the stadium, highlighted too the importance of being direct when necessary and adaptable, too. The Scots changed their game to suit the conditions whereas the Samoans couldn't or wouldn't.

All of which brings us to the All Blacks here and their approach against Canada, a nation ranked 22nd in the world they should beat comfortably without trying anything too out of the ordinary. It's here that Sonny Bill Williams may be especially prominent, with the big second-five starting outside playmaker Richie Mo'unga for the third time and able to provide momentum like few others.

Williams celebrated the start of his third World Cup when linking with No10 Mo'unga in playing 30 minutes off the bench during the win over the Boks in Yokohama. After starting alongside the little Crusader against the Boks in Wellington and Wallabies at Eden Park, the 1.94m Williams gets another chance to push his case and is likely to do so in the most physical way imaginable.

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Sonny Bill Williams in action during the All Blacks training session in Beppu, Oita, Japan. Rugby World Cup 2019. 28 September 2019 New Zealand Herald Photograph by Mark Mitchell.
Sonny Bill Williams in action during the All Blacks training session in Beppu, Oita, Japan. Rugby World Cup 2019. 28 September 2019 New Zealand Herald Photograph by Mark Mitchell.

The Canadian inside back duo of Peter Nelson and Ciaran Hearn must be preparing their shoulders for the worst-case scenario either with or without the ball.

"It's a reality check to how small I am, actually, playing with someone like Sonny," Mo'unga, who stands 1.76m, said. "Playing alongside Crotts isn't too bad as we're both a similar height. Sonny is awesome, he's world class. He's very genuine with his preparation and when I play with him he's very genuine in asking me if there's anything he can do to help make my job easier.

"I love playing inside Sonny – having a big body there… he doesn't mind coming in and making tackles for me."

Twin playmakers Mo'unga, who isn't a bad defender himself and somehow prevented a flying Cheslin Koble from scoring in Yokohama, and Beauden Barrett have roomed together in Beppu this week and this match against Canada, which comes four days before the All Blacks play Namibia in Tokyo, is another chance to strengthen their on-field bond.

But, as All Blacks coach Ian Foster said, it's not only about that pair; this match is ideally also about cementing combinations throughout the whole squad and getting much needed game time into men such as Jack Goodhue, who is returning from a hamstring strain, and Matt Todd, back from a shoulder problem. Neither Rieko Ioane nor Jordie Barrett are likely to lack energy, either.

Sonny Bill Williams with Ryan Crotty during warm-up drills at the All Blacks training session in Beppu, Oita, Japan. Rugby World Cup 2019. Photo / Mark Mitchell.
Sonny Bill Williams with Ryan Crotty during warm-up drills at the All Blacks training session in Beppu, Oita, Japan. Rugby World Cup 2019. Photo / Mark Mitchell.

"I know everyone's excited and talking about these two and the roles they play but it's how we fit the whole team into the attacking model we want to play," Foster said. "It's not just connecting two players, it's about connecting 15, and particularly our midfield who play a pretty important role with our decision making. We're just trying to keep building the combinations we've got and the permutations we think we need through this tournament.

"We've got Jack Goodhue coming back after being out for a while. When you look at that we wanted to give the team some consistency of a few players to make some consistency but also grow Sonny and Jack and have them fit in well and see what they can contribute."

Barrett said: "We'd like to think that every back is a playmaker so we all have that ability to make good, smart decisions. We all have the skillsets to run, pass or kick."

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