News

Sonny Bill Williams Added to Kiwis Squad

Wednesday, October 09, 2013


Sonny Bill Williams has been added to the Kiwis squad for the Rugby League World Cup.

Williams signalled yesterday to the Kiwis coach Stephen Kearney that he had reconsidered his position of not being available for the tournament. Teams have the ability to make changes at this stage and Williams' registration has been accepted by World Cup organisers.

"It's been a tough situation, but Sonny brings things to the group that we couldn't ignore," said the Kiwis coach Stephen Kearney. "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."

Williams replaces the Melbourne Storm's Tohu Harris in the 24-man Kiwis squad. The Kiwis were keen to take Harris to the UK in a development role, which would see him travel with the squad and play pre-tournament against the Cook Islands, but the Storm have decided it is in Harris's best interests to stay in Melbourne and have a decent off-season. The 21yo, who made his first grade debut for the Storm in the World Club Challenge in the UK in February, will instead bring forward minor surgery.

"Tohu handled the situation as well as anyone could," said Kearney. "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."

 


Wednesday October 9 8.30am

In light of very recent developments, the Kiwis coach Stephen Kearney would like to issue the following statement:

"Late on Tuesday, Sonny Bill Williams expressed his desire to play for the Kiwis in the Rugby League World Cup. 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."

The maximum number of players in a World Cup squad is 24, so if Williams was to be included he would need to replace another squad member.

The NZRL will make further comment once additional information is at hand.