(Reuters) - Sonny Bill Williams made a couple of howling errors in the final but still ended up celebrating a victorious sevens debut as New Zealand won the Wellington leg of the World Series tournament on Sunday.
Williams's bow was eagerly awaited as the All Blacks' World Cup winner, who has also shone as one of the world's finest rugby league players and New Zealand's champion heavyweight boxer, now targets a place in the inaugural Olympics sevens.
Yet the multi-talented Williams produced errors along with the odd moment of offloading magic in a mixed display over the weekend before New Zealand managed to eke out a 24-21 win over South Africa in the final.
Still, though, the 30-year-old was left satisfied with his winning start, telling reporters: "I know that I will get better."
Williams, who had scored a try with his first touch on Saturday, made two glaring mistakes in Sunday's final, dropping the ball from the kickoff and delivering an errant offload to help South Africa forge into a 21-7 lead.
Yet New Zealand made a remarkable fight back, with Joe Webber clinching the winning try after the final siren.
"I'm really pleased with how I went this weekend to tell you the truth," Williams told reporters. "The pleasing thing is being able to be in an environment where, even though I'm a rookie, everyone wants to help you out.
"I've come into this weekend taking it as a massive learning experience and I'm just grateful to be playing in such a talented side."
New Zealand coach Gordon Tightens was also impressed. "I'm really pleased with Sonny," he said. "He's disappointed in a couple of things that he did but the good thing about Sonny is that he can put that behind him and just look to the next job. That's why he's so good.
"He's a perfectionist and he'll get it right."
Williams is seeking selection for the Olympics sevens in Rio de Janeiro along with his sister Nail, who hopes to be picked for the New Zealand women's squad.
(Reporting by Ian Chadband; editing by Martyn Herman)