Sonny Bill Williams league play tarnishes solid All Blacks outing

Sonny Bill Williams Aurelien Meunier/Getty Images

An old rugby league habit has tarnished another rugby Test for All Blacks second five-eighth Sonny Bill Williams.

One of Williams' better performances of his Test career was spoiled by a bizarre play early in the second half of New Zealand's 38-18 win over France.

With little pressure on him, the 32-year-old leapt to claim a cross-kick from French first five-eighth Anthony Belleau. Rather than simply catch it and force a 22m drop-out, Williams batted the ball over the dead ball line.

The result? A yellow card and a contentious penalty try, letting France back into the Test.

"He doesn't know the rules, he's playing league," coach Steve Hansen deadpanned. "It's a good lesson for Sonny next time, to catch it."

It was the second time Williams' ingrained league approach has let him down in a rugby Test. His red card for a shoulder charge on winger Anthony Watson was the catalyst for the British & Irish Lions winning the second Test in Wellington.

Hansen was initially surprised by the penalty try ruling from Australian referee Angus Gardner, who ruled French winger Yoann Huget would have claimed the cross kick and scored if Williams hadn't committed his volleyball-still hit.

"I didn't realise once he'd committed that foul play, he is deemed to be invisible," Hansen said.

The All Blacks coach also lamented his side's ill-discipline after the world champions conceded 11 penalties after halftime.

"As a result of that, we allowed the momentum to shift," Hansen said.

"The French were good enough to take advantage and put us under pressure but I was happy with the way we fought our way through it."