Williams looking for full 80 minutes

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Friday, February 18, 2011    NZPA    Getty Images

Coach Pat Lam isn't saying how much playing time the 61-test All Black will get against the Crusaders in Auckland, but Williams rated himself as good for "the whole game".

"Anything less and I feel like I've ripped the team off," he said.

"Physically I'm fine."

Williams had no doubts he could last the distance.

He said tests he had done showed that his speed was back up to where it was before he spent his two lengthy spells on the sidelines.

But he cautioned fans against expecting big things from him in his first match back for the Blues.

"Physically I'm exactly where I was" he said.

"But in terms of game-related things and time on the field, it's pretty obvious I'm not where I was two years ago."

The way that would improve was through more matches and his focus against the Crusader would be simply to do the basics well.

"You're not going to see a miracle out there, you're not going to see a world beater out there," he said.

"But you are going to see someone that wants to be out there and loves playing rugby."

Williams's last Super rugby appearance was back in May 2009.

He then underwent achilles tendon and shoulder operations, but his comeback came to an early and sudden halt in January last year when he ruptured a different area of the tendon just minutes into a pre-season match.

His goes into the new campaign with four games for English club Nottingham and two pre-season outings for the Blues under his belt.

Williams, 29, was confident that there would be no mental scars arising from his time in the casualty ward when he takes the field against the Crusaders.

"Not really, it is what it is," he said.

"I'm running. I'm just as capable as these boys. I even beat a few in the old fitness test. It's been and gone."

Of the squads named by the Blues and the Crusaders for the Eden Park encounter, Williams is one of 24 players who have worn the All Black jersey.

However, missing will be test and Crusader skipper Richie McCaw, who is sitting out the first six weeks of the season with a foot injury.

McCaw's stand-in as openside flanker is Matt Todd, who is new to Super rugby but got excellent reviews for his performances for Canterbury last year.

While McCaw might be the world player of the year, Lam believed his absence didn't lessen the threat the Crusaders posed.

"The Crusaders aren't about one man and that's why they've been successful," he said.

"It's about a team. You're coming up against a lot of history and it's vital we play well again a very good side."