TOULON, France (AFP) – New Toulon signing Ali Williams believes New Zealand teammate Ma'a Nonu could still turn out for the All Blacks, even if he comes to France to play club rugby.
New Zealanders are contracted to their national rugby federation and can only turn out for the All Blacks if plying their club trade in their homeland.
Yet lock Williams, who made his debut in the Top 14 on Saturday as Toulon edged past Bayonne 18-12, said Nonu could be an exception to the rule.
"He just wants to play rugby (and) experience something. If he plays (in France) that's good; it's always good to experience something new. He's a good player," Williams told AFP.
"He'll definitely play for New Zealand, he's too good (not to).
"It's his decision, not mine. I know how much he loves playing in the All Black jersey."
Nonu has been linked with a move to last season's beaten European Cup finalists Clermont once the Rugby Championship ends next month, although no official announcement has been made.
Williams, meanwhile, said he enjoyed being on the same side as South African Bakkies Botha for a change, having locked horns with the giant former Springbok on numerous occasions for club and country.
"He's different, he's good different. He's bigger (than Williams), he's a big man, he's strong. I'm not as big or as strong, so my game's slightly different from his.
"His physicality is definitely his strength, how strong he is, around the ruck and maul how effective he is.
"He's very good in the scrum, a powerful player. (My strength) is more lineouts, I worry about the lineout (and) get that working.
"It's good fun, I don't know where the duo would sit in the world standards, were both not playing international rugby any more.
"We're just having fun, it's a great honour to play next to him because I've played against him for so long."
Williams and Botha actually made their international debuts on the same day, November 9, 2002 -- Williams in a narrow defeat to England, Botha in a crushing loss in France.
They faced each other eight times for their countries.
Asked how he would remember his encounters with the 2.02m, 124kg Botha, Williams replied: "A sore rib, neck, and shoulders!"