Sonny Bill meets with NZRU

Date published: October 10 2013

It has emerged that Sonny Bill Williams met with leading New Zealand Rugby Union officials in Sydney on Thursday.

It has emerged that Sonny Bill Williams met with leading New Zealand Rugby Union officials in Sydney on Thursday.

The All Black international and his manager, Khoder Nasser, gathered with NZRU professional rugby manager Neil Sorensen, and members of the Chiefs coaching staff, including Wayne Smith, at a restaurant by the city's Brighton Beach.

The news comes just days after the 28-year-old performed a high-profile U-turn on his decision not to play for his country in the rugby league World Cup, whereby coach Stephen Kearney drafted him into the squad late in place of Tohu Harris.

It is understood a money-spinning three-year Chiefs deal could be on the table for the dual international, paving the way towards a place in the All Blacks' 2015 Rugby World Cup defence, and an appearance in the seven-man variation of the sport at the Olympic Games in Rio a year later.

Williams switched codes from union to league following New Zealand's Rugby World Cup victory in 2011, and the Chiefs' Super Rugby triumph a year later.

The Kiwi's return to league was a huge success, as he won Australia's National Rugby League title with the Sydney Roosters, and was recently named the side's player of the season.

The NZRU are eager to tempt the centre back to union, and say they are striving to secure his services.

“We had a really good meeting, still really keen and are working to bring him home, but nothing has been signed,” Sorensen told Reuters.

Williams himself had announced earlier the rationale behind his decision to commit to the rugby league world cup squad, after initially ruling himself out.

“When I spoke to Stephen Kearney my body was sore and tired,” Williams told the BBC on Thursday.

“I've not had a rest since 2008 and thought I could go on a vacation with my family but I made a rash decision without thinking about it,” he said.

“Afterwards I thought what I would miss out on and remembered how bad I felt in 2008.

“But a gut feeling … in 10 years would I have regrets about not making myself available?

“I couldn't look at myself in the mirror so I had to make the phone call and say I was available.”

But Kearney's decision to replace young forward Harris at such short notice with the dual international was not unanimously well-received across New Zealand.

One of the nation's most prominent columnists labelling the switch a “day of shame” for New Zealand's rugby league.

“The axing of Harris from the Kiwis World Cup league squad a day after his selection, for sport's No. 1 narcissist Sonny Bill Williams, is, in my opinion, disgusting,” said New Zealand Herald sports columnist Chris Rattue.

“Camp SBW hold the power and wield it disdainfully while weak men fall at their feet.

“This is a day of shame for Kiwis league.”