Nanai-Williams opts for Samoa over NZ

Date published: November 22 2014

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Chiefs and Counties-Manukau utility back Tim Nanai-Williams has turned his back on New Zealand after deciding to play for Samoa.

Chiefs and Counties-Manukau utility back Tim Nanai-Williams has turned his back on New Zealand after deciding to play for Samoa.

Nanai-Williams has opted to use the IRB’s loophole to switch allegiance ahead of the 2015 World Cup in England.

The 25-year-old has decided to play for Samoain the upcoming IRB’s Sevens World Series tournaments in Dubai on December 5-6, South Africa the following weekend, and Wellington on February 6-7 and must still decide.

He must still decide which of the other tournaments he will play in. The IRB want players looking to represent another country to play in a minimum of four Sevens World Series legs for their conversion to be approved.

Nanai-Williams, who represented New Zealand at Secondary Schools and Sevens, admitted that it was not an easy decision to give up on his dream of playing for the All Blacks senior side.

“It took me ages, but I sat down and talked to my family and talked to my partner Allie and now I’m finally comfortable to go ahead with the decision to make the move,” he told Stuff.

“I’m Kiwi born, but I am also a proud Samoan. That blue jersey is the same to me as an All Blacks one to be honest.”

Both Nanai-Williams’ parents are Samoan-born but they brought their family to New Zealand in the 1980s.

“They were actually the ones who were approaching me about it [making the change] the most,” he said.

“They were hearing about it [the loophole] on Samoan radio. I told them I hadn’t made a decision, but once I decided I told mum and dad and my close family first and mum was pretty happy.”

Although there were rumours about him switching allegiance, Nanai-Williams said he did not seriously consider making the move until he started thinking about the prospects of playing at the 2015 World Cup in England.

“I wasn’t thinking about it at all through ITM Cup,” he added.

“There were whispers about this loophole during Super Rugby, but I wasn’t really thinking about it until probably a month ago when I started to consider it quite seriously.

“With the World Cup just around the corner, that’s really intriguing for me and that’s what popped into my head, that opportunity to play on that world stage.

“Regardless of who you play for that’s the biggest stage you could play on and that’s part of what drew me to it.”

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