All Blacks surprise spectators at Sonny Bill Williams’ old stomping ground

All Blacks and Bulldogs: From left, Dane Coles, Jack Goodhue, David Klemmer, Liam Coltman, Nathan Harris, Greg Eastwood, ...

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All Blacks and Bulldogs: From left, Dane Coles, Jack Goodhue, David Klemmer, Liam Coltman, Nathan Harris, Greg Eastwood, Aiden Tolman, Josh Morris, Brett Morris, Will Hopoate, and Joe Moody at Belmore on Wednesday.

Sonny Bill Williams wasn’t there but several league-loving New Zealand rugby stars made the most of their day off from training to attend the Bulldogs training session at Belmore on Wednesday.

Nathan Harris, Joe Moody, the injured Dane Coles, as well as Jack Goodhue and Liam Coltman were given a quick tour of Belmore’s state-of-the-art gym.

They then spoke with most of the Bulldogs squad, including David Klemmer, Josh and Brett Morris, as well as proud Kiwis Greg Eastwood and Raymond Fataila-Mariner.

Williams, who famously walked out on Canterbury for French rugby a decade ago, remained home in New Zealand recovering from injury, and will miss the first two tests against Australia.

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For all the awful headlines he generated at the time, Williams and Canterbury eventually patched things up, with one of the game’s genuine megastars named in their team of the decade.

Given the Dogs’ position on the NRL ladder, the All Blacks may have been better placed spending time with the Sydney Roosters, South Sydney or even making the trek out to Penrith.

Not only did Canterbury’s schedule suit the New Zealand players, but there was also a link already established with the club’s new general manager of football, Gareth Holmes, who struck up a relationship with some of the All Blacks support staff while working with the Kangaroos.

The All Blacks are such a highly organised and well-drilled unit that the players were flanked by security during their hit-and-run trip to Belmore.

Canterbury remain popular on the other side of the ditch but opted not to take a home game there this season. They will also pass next season, but are open to playing in New Zealand in 2020 once works start on ANZ Stadium.

The Bulldogs are also weighing up taking one of their games from Belmore next season and playing at the new Western Sydney Stadium.

Meanwhile, Bulldogs coach Dean Pay was keen for his side to bounce back from their loss to Manly against the Warriors on Sunday, and said the return of rookie playmaker Lachlan Lewis would be a boost.

“We got down the other end of the field a lot [against Manly] but we lacked some execution in what we were doing,” Pay said.

“We missed Lachie a fair bit with his talk and organisation. Hopefully that improves and we can score some points.”

RUGBY AUSTRALIA

Wallabies first five-eighth Bernard Foley says he isn’t fazed by the mind games coming from the All Blacks camp.

The Dogs are 14th with three rounds remaining and are locked in a five-way battle for the wooden spoon with Manly, the Gold Coast Titans, Parramatta and North Queensland.

Corey Oates remains a chance to join the club, but officials are privately resigned to losing out to either Parramatta or Newcastle.

 – Sydney Morning Herald

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