Williams fits right in at Toulon
Williams fits right in at ToulonSHARE
Toulon skipper Chris Masoe singled out European Cup debutant Ali Williams for special praise after his side kicked-off the defence of their European title.
Masoe knows all about the impact the 77-times capped Williams can make following his playing days alongside him in the All Blacks pack and he is delighted to see him now plying his trade in the south of France.
The 32-year-old Williams was Toulon's leading line-out forward in the 51-28 bonus point win over Glasgow Warriors in and the second highest tackler in the team to Masoe with seven.
Packing down alongside Springbok legend Bakkies Botha he was able to provide real power in a second row boasting 151 caps and almost every major title in the world game.
"Ali Williams is a huge addition to our line-out and we now have some quality players that add some edge to the team. Ali brought a little bit of what we used to do with the All Blacks – he brought his touch and his intensity in the line-out," said Masoe.
"We had it before, but he definitely adds some momentum. We had a good scrum and a good line-out in the first half, which was our plan to help us score tries.
"We have even greater depth in the squad than last year. We may even be slightly better off than last year.
"It's a step up, but the competition is tough. It might be a bit of worry for the other teams, but we're happy about that, it's a good thing!"
As well as blooding Williams, South African loose forward Juan Smith and Australian wing Drew Mitchell on the European stage, Toulon also had new recruit Bryan Habana watching on the touchline. He could come into the reckoning for his debut in the second round game in Cardiff on Saturday.
Masoe has good memories of the Welsh capital having won the first of his 20 New Zealand caps against Wales at the Millennium Stadium in 2005.
Travelling to the Arms Park to face the Blues on the back of a bonus point win will also give his side belief they can repeat their victory at the same venue in last year's Pool stages.
"Overall we're satisfied with the win over Glasgow. It was the first game of the European Cup and we got a win with the bonus point," said Masoe.
"We're obviously a bit disappointed with the second half. We talked at half-time about not letting go and being ruthless, but we did switch off a bit after the break.
"Bit credit to Glasgow, they can play some great rugby. We can't forget that they have 80% of the Scotland team."