ESPN SCRUM

/ New Zealand

/ News

New Zealand
Sonny Bill Williams set to play in end-of-year tour
August 25, 2014
Sonny Bill Williams will be eligible for All Blacks selection even if he misses the ITM Cup © Getty Images
Enlarge

Cross-code star Sonny Bill Williams has been granted special dispensation to be included in the All Blacks' end-of-year tour squad.

Williams, who currently plays in the NRL with the reigning premiers, Sydney Roosters, will return to rugby once his two-year league deal runs out, but the timing of the All Blacks' tour means he may not play a domestic match in the ITM Cup before the squad is picked.

The New Zealand Rugby board, however, has granted him an exemption to be selected without having played in the national provincial championship, with chief executive Steve Tew saying the All Blacks' coaching staff can select the Rugby World Cup winner if they want him in the squad.

"It is still expected he will play ITM Cup rugby, but that is dependent on how the Roosters do in the NRL, and if you ask Warriors fans they would say they are doing quite well," Tew said. "The board were asked on Friday what they were comfortable with in terms of how many games he had to play to tick the [All Blacks eligibility] box.

All Blacks bend rules for Sonny Bill Williams

"The board were of the view, which we completely concur with, that we have made a big investment in Sonny Bill Williams and if the coaches believe we get the most out of that investment by taking him on the tour in November then they should have the discretion to do so. There were a number of unknowns around the situation which made it sensible to leave some flexibility.

"That's entirely in the hands of the All Blacks coaches and Sonny Bill himself because he will have to make an assessment about whether touring at the end of the year is the best thing for him or not depending on how the [Roosters] season pans out from here.

Williams has signed to play for Ranfurly Shield holders Counties Manukau in the ITM Cup, but the Roosters are assured of making the NRL finals, putting his availability in doubt. His commitments in the 13-a-side code may prevent him playing for the Tana Umaga-coached Steelers, whose regular season winds up four days after the NRL grand final on October 5.

"If he were not to play [for Counties Manukau] the board have the discretion to allow him not to play and they have exercised that discretion in advance, but it is still anticipated he will play ITM Cup because we think that will be of benefit to him anyway," Tew said.

The All Blacks commence their end-of-season tour against the United States in Chicago on November 1, followed by Tests against England, Scotland and Wales over successive weekends.

© AAP

Live Sports

Communication error please reload the page.

  • Latest
  • Most Viewed
  • News
  • Features
  • Rugby

    Richard Cockerill has home semi-final in his sights

    Leicester director of rugby Richard Cockerill insists he has not given up hope of a home Aviva Premiership semi-final after his side leapfrogged Exeter Chiefs in the standings with victory at Welford Road

  • Rugby

    Toulouse leave it late to stun Toulon

    Toulouse produced a stunning second-half display to beat Top 14 leaders Toulon34-24 and leave the top three sides separated by just two points after Stade Francais' win over Clermont Auvergne

  • Golf

    George Coetzee battles back to keep Masters dream alive

    George Coetzee staged a superb fightback to keep his hopes of qualifying for the Masters alive in the Hassan Trophy at Golf du Palais Royal

  • Rugby

    Ashton and Wyles ease Saracens to Wembley win

    Chris Wyles and Chris Ashton grabbed two tries apiece as Saracens earned a bonus-point victory over Harlequins 42-14 in front of a record crowd for a domestic rugby match at Wembley

  • Rugby

    England held to draw by USA as Portugal stun All Blacks

    England reached the quarter finals of the Cathay Pacific-HSBC Hong Kong Sevens after qualifying second from Pool D following an entertaining 21-21 draw with USA

  • Football

    A Klose call

    Miroslav Klose scored goals in the World Cup final tournaments of 2002, 2006, 2010 and 2014. Has anyone else scored World Cup goals 12 years apart?

  • Formula 1

    F1 cost cutting: Not putting money where the mouth is

    Mudslinging and an agreement on something that will never happen, it's all in a day's work for a Formula One boss, as Maurice Hamilton explains...

  • Formula One

    Tough at the top

    Who has driven in the most GPs before taking pole position?

  • Rugby

    Unsavoury sledging did not end with Potgieter

    Fallout continues from the NSW-Brumbies derby, with one Tahs forward - not Potgieter - surprised by other unsavoury comments during the game, Greg Growden reports

  • Rugby

    Super Rugby preview, team news, line-ups: Round 7

    Greg Growden previews Super Rugby round 7. We've also got key stats, team news and all the line-ups to inform your ESPN Footytips Super Rugby picks

  • News
  • Features

Sponsored Links

Make Huge Income from your Home
Download your Free Guide And Learn How To Increase Your Monthly Income