Hansen jumps to Sonny Bill Williams's defence

by AAP

Steve Hansen has leapt to the defence of Sonny Bill Williams, whose brain fade during the All Blacks Test win over France has set off another wave of anti-SBW sentiment.

Williams' social media critics have pounced on the 32-year-old's deliberate slapping of the ball over the dead ball line in Paris, resulting in a yellow card and a penalty try.

Such an action is legitimate in Williams' former code, rugby league, which explains why Hansen is being lenient.

He also asked travelling journalists not to fan flames of criticism towards a player who was excellent at the Stade de France aside from his blunder.

"I reckon you guys need to be a little bit careful how hard you are on him," Hansen said.

Sonny Bill Williams has been training with the All Blacks this week. Photo: Getty Images"Here's a guy who's played two codes and in the other code you're allowed to do it.

"I watched the English-French (Rugby League World Cup) game and they did it about 10 times. I'm thinking, 'no wonder the poor bugger did it'."

Williams switched to rugby union a decade ago after walking out on his Bulldogs NRL contract.

In the decade since, he has been a rugby union professional aside from two seasons back in the NRL with the Sydney Roosters.

Hansen preferred to highlight an exceptional performance elsewhere for Williams, who ran good lines on attack and was part of a rock hard defensive effort.

"He played really well. If he hadn't had that, you'd all be telling us how good he was."