New Zealand v British Lions 2nd Test Betting: Who can stop sensational Sonny Bill?
Warren Gatland's touring side must win to save the series in Wellington on Saturday but Ralph Ellis fears the All Blacks are simply far too strong...
"Sonny Bill was unquestionable New Zealand’s standout star in last Saturday’s 30-15 first Test victory, and it’s hard to see any way he won’t be just as influential this Saturday when the teams meet again in Wellington. The All Blacks are as short as [1.22] in the Match Odds".
Along with another 10,700 people I follow Curtis Woodhouse on Twitter. I read his brilliant book "Box to Box" when it came out last year and loved the story of a wayward Premier League footballer who won a British boxing title.
Curtis is now cutting his football management teeth with Bridlington Town in the depths of the Northern Counties East League, while getting himself ready for a comeback in the ring in the Autumn. It's hard not to admire his commitment to the training regime he's putting himself through.
I thought it must be pretty unique and nigh on impossible for anybody to be a top performer in one sport and a champion boxer too. But then I came upon Sonny Bill Williams.
The brilliantly talented All Blacks centre has starred in two top international sports and also once held a WBA heavyweight title. A genius at rugby league, he's converted seamlessly to union. And between 2009 and 2014 he also put together a seven-fight undefeated run that finished in victory over Francois Botha.
For good measure he also went to the 2016 Olympics as part of New Zealand's rugby sevens side, a tournament that ended for him when he ruptured his Achilles in the first game. From there it was all about getting fit enough to face the British Lions this summer, but I suppose given the level of his dedication that should never have been in doubt.
Sonny Bill was unquestionable New Zealand's standout star in last Saturday's 30-15 first Test victory, and it's hard to see any way he won't be just as influential this Saturday when the teams meet again in Wellington.
The All Blacks are as short as [1.22] in the Match Odds and all the pre-tour optimism about the chances of Warren Gatland's side has quietly evaporated.
Yes, the Lions produced the try of this or any other series when Liam Williams began that brilliant jinking run but across 80 minutes they were second best. And while Sonny Bill might have reined in some of his intuitive offloads on the instructions of coach Steve Hansen, he made it his business to be the best defender instead.
Smashed himself in a fearsome tackle by fellow rugby league convert Ben Te'o, he still made eight big hits of his own, the most of any of New Zealand's backs, as the Lions found no room to build any attacking momentum.
Gatland may bring in Maro Itoje, who should have played at the start last week, and he could gamble on the greater line breaking skills of Rhys Webb at fly half. But whatever he does the All Blacks have stepped up their game and will step it up again.
The bottom line is that New Zealand are just too strong in every position. They are around even money to win by more than 14.5 points and that looks the best value bet to be had this Saturday morning.
No offence, Mr Woodhouse, and good luck with your comeback - but Sonny Bill is in a different league.