Sonny Bill Williams completes league U-turn
October 9, 2013
Sonny Bill is now going to play in the league World Cup for the Kiwis © Getty Images
Sonny Bill Williams has completed a remarkable U-turn and has now been named in New Zealand's rugby league squad for the 2013 World Cup.
Williams was omitted from the squad earlier this week with the Kiwi coach Steve Kearney explaining the ex-All Black had declared himself unavailable. The move sparked rumours Williams was ready to turn his back on league and push forward with his return to union with the Chiefs reportedly his favoured option.
But a day or so later, Williams changed his mind and was said to be keen to run out in the World Cup, despite the Kiwis having named their 24-man squad. Kearney was forced into a tough call and opted to replace Tohu Harris in the squad with Williams.
"It's been a tough situation, but Sonny brings things to the group that we couldn't ignore," Kearney said. "He has had time since his NRL grand final win to clear his head and he wants to represent the Kiwis on the world stage. He missed our 2008 World Cup win and his inclusion will be a great asset in trying to repeat that success this year. It's not only his footballing ability, but also what he brings off the field which will benefit the team."
You can't help but feel sorry for Harris though and he has turned down the New Zealand Rugby League's offer of travelling to the World Cup as a 'development player'. Kearney admitted the situation was far from ideal but praised Harris for the way he handled the omission.
"It was a conversation no coach would like to have, but he's a terrific young man and I'm sure he'll have many more opportunities to pull on the black jersey. It's been a unique set of circumstances for all involved, but for now our focus is getting set to defend the World Cup with the team we have."
© 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.
On Saturday, New Zealand face the USA in a match that has been 40 years in the making. Tom Hamilton finds the atmosphere building in Chicago
Most modern rugby players will not know the name Ray Williams but they should be eternally grateful to him, writes John Taylor
With the All Blacks playing the USA Eagles this weekend, Craig Dowd says rugby is ready to make a professional breakthrough Stateside
"He had a death stare so you'd know when you were wrong." George Kruis talks about his mentor Borthwick, fly-fishing and his England aspirations