Putting his hand up: Sonny Bill Williams. Photo: Jonathan Carroll
Sonny Bill Williams has explained the reasons behind his stunning change of heart over playing for the Kiwis in the Rugby League World Cup, saying he hadn’t thought the situation through properly and could understand if New Zealand didn’t pick him.
As revealed by Fairfax Media on Tuesday night, Williams contacted Kiwis coach Stephen Kearney after the 24-man squad was announced to declare himself available.
Williams said he had been looking forward to his first break from league, union or boxing since 2008 but realised how much playing for New Zealand meant to him. The Sydney Roosters superstar said he understood if his call had come too late.
“After a few tough seasons topped with an amazing one with the boys at the Roosters, I was faced with the opportunity to have a long awaited break and go on holiday with my family,” Williams said in a statement posted on Twitter.
“Without thinking the whole situation through thoroughly, I eagerly jumped at the chance to chill out and rest.
“After having some time to really think about how much representing my country means to me, I decided then to put my name forward for selection.
“Now I know the squad is already picked and I can understand if I cant be a part of it but I’m here and ready to help my brothers if they want me.”
Kiwis coach Stephen Kearney is now considering how to adjust his squad to accommodate Williams, “Our thinking had always been that if Sonny was available, he would be part of the team. We are now exploring options around Sonny’s possible inclusion in the tournament. This would require ratification by the World Cup organisers,” he said.
Agencies are reporting that Tohu Harris will be the player to make way for Williams.
The NZRL said it would make further comment once additional information was available.