Sonny Bill Williams 'sport's No. 1 narcissist'
October 10, 2013
Welcome back ... but not a warm welcome - Sonny Bill is now going to play in the Rugby League World Cup © Getty Images
Sonny Bill Williams' about-turn over his participation in the Rugby League World Cup may have left those selling the tournament and NZ league officials relieved, but it has not gone down well in all circles.
Williams, who reportedly met with the New Zealand Rugby Union on Thursday, said he was unavailable and about to go on holiday before he changed his mind, forcing the selectors to drop Melbourne forward Tohu Harris who had been named in the original squad.
Writing in the New Zealand Herald, columnist Chris Rattue described Williams as "sport's No. 1 narcissist" and the decision to drop Harris as "disgusting".
"Camp SBW hold the power and wield it disdainfully while weak men fall at their feet," he wrote. "This is a day of shame for Kiwis league."
"I don't know how much integrity there is in sport anyway these days, it seems to be something that was swept out the door long ago and this is another example of it," Radio Sport commentator Brendan Telfer said.
Former NZ coach Graham Lowe was another unimpressed. "It shouldn't have got this far actually," he said in an interview on local TV. "It's been amateur hour in my view." But he added that to win the tournament New Zealand needed their best players. "Sonny Bill is the best player on the planet, the Kiwis couldn't do without him."
While there was sympathy for Harris, the general view was that the right thing had been done even if the way it happened was poor.
"In some way he has probably disrespected [the squad] but he's made a decision and we've just got to cop it on the head," selector Richie Barnett said. "At the end of the day, we're here to win a World Cup, we're not here to please people on moralistic grounds."
© 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.
Huw Richards profiles French forward Walter Spanghero, a man who even rugby's hard men thought was a tough nut
"To be part of the Commonwealth Games, I'd wear anything. I'd wear a clown suit." Tom Hamilton talks to Scotland's Sean Lamont
Scrum Sevens looks back at how rugby has fared in both the early Olympics and the past four Commonwealth Games
"Cheika's been phenomenal. He gives you an incredible level of mental strength." Tom Hamilton talks to Waratahs star Jacques Potgieter