Confusion surrounds Sonny Bill Williams' future
October 8, 2013
Sonny Bill at a fans day on Tuesday © Getty Images
Sonny Bill Williams will not feature in New Zealand's defence of the Rugby League World Cup after telling selectors he had "other commitments", the biggest indication yet he is poised to return to switch codes.
Williams helped Sydney Roosters win the NRL Grand Final at the weekend but there has been ongoing speculation that he plans to move from league to union for the second time.
"Sonny is unavailable due to other commitments, and what they are at this stage I'm sure we would all like to know and I'm sure we will hear all about that over the next two or three weeks," New Zealand rugby league coach Stephen Kearney said. "I spoke to Sonny and his agent yesterday. I have been working with them for quite some time in terms of his availability. I don't know [what he's doing]."
However, the situation might not be straightforward as within hours of Kearney's comments rumours started circulating that Williams' had had yet another about-turn. The Sydney Morning Herald said he had called Kearney to say he was, after all, available.
"I've seen the report and we're still working our way through it," New Zealand's media manager Caley Wilson said. "I'm getting a mountain of calls on the subject but I can't shed any light at the moment. Stephen is on his way back to Brisbane after the press conference in Auckland. I dropped him off at the airport this afternoon and he's spent most of the later part of the day in the air.
"He spoke to Sonny Bill yesterday but whether he's had another conversation I'm not sure yet."
Williams, who first switched in 2008, was a part of the new Zealand side which won the 2011 World Cup and the speculation is he wants to move again to allow him to play in the 2015 tournament as well as possibly featuring at the Olympics in 2016 as part of the All Blacks Sevens side. It seems likely he will return to the Chiefs.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd
Download ESPN's new UK multisport app, a fresh and powerful new way to follow your favourite UK sports news, scores and video.
The All Blacks' form is not a peaking issue, but Hansen must threaten to wield his axe, to demand improvement, Craig Dowd writes
"It has been the World Cup that smashed down the gender barriers of the sport." Tom Hamilton looks back at a remarkable tournament
A selection of the best pictures from England's historic World Cup triumph in Paris as they beat Canada 21-9
The latest Week in Pictures takes in the Women's World Cup, the opening round of the Top 14 and the Rugby Championship