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Ali Williams 'best years of rugby ahead of me'

Published: 6:38PM Monday September 24, 2012 Source: ONE Sport

Blues and former All Black lock Ali Williams is ready to return to the playing field after being sidelined for three months with a knee injury.

Williams will make his first appearance for Auckland in next weekend's ITM Cup clash against North Harbour at Albany and believes he has plenty of rugby left in his towering frame yet.

Unlike his friend and All Black captain Richie McCaw, Williams is not looking for a sabbatical and firmly believes he can continue playing at the highest level as long as he manages his body carefully over the coming years.

"90% of people out there think I'm probably lying here, but I think I've got the best years of rugby ahead of me," Williams explained during a junior coaching clinic at his old stomping ground, Ponsonby Rugby Club, today.

"I think the reality is I've got to look after it (body) a lot more.

"I'd love to go for another two to three years."

At 31-years of age, Williams realises he is not getting any younger, but despite his battles with injury and having already achieved the highest honours in the game, he insists he has a new excitement for the game.

After first being picked for Auckland some 11 years ago, the 75 Test veteran is aware many critics say he has reached the end of the road and he denied he was expecting a call up for the All Blacks end of year tour.

When asked if he had been given any assurances from All Blacks coach Steve Hansen, Williams said: "No. I'm in the boat like everyone else.

"If you're good enough we'll put you in there, if not get better."

News that Williams is also expecting his first child in April next year has contributed to his new lease on life and added to his longevity motivation.

"I've even got a little kid on the way so I've got to mature," the notoriously jovial Williams explained.

Meanwhile, Williams is looking forward to getting back into the rhythm of playing again with his Auckland teammates and is a definite starter for the Blues 2013 Super Rugby campaign.