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I'm ready to help the Kiwis: SBW

SYDNEY, Oct 9 AAP-AFP - Sonny Bill Williams has attempted to explain himself amid accusations of making himself bigger than the game with his u-turn on his availability for the rugby league World Cup
I'm ready to help the Kiwis: SBW
by AAP

SYDNEY, Oct 9 AAP-AFP - Sonny Bill Williams has attempted to explain himself amid accusations of making himself bigger than the game with his u-turn on his availability for the rugby league World Cup.

The superstar dual international sparked controversy by declaring he's ready to join New Zealand's rugby league World Cup title defence despite making himself unavailable when the squad was named on Tuesday.

"After having some time to really think about how much representing my country means to me, I decided to then put my name forward for selection," Williams said on Twitter on Wednesday.

"Now I know the squad's already picked and I understand if I can't be a part of it, but I'm here and ready to help the brothers if they want me."

Williams' post gave no hint as to whether the dual international planned to stay with the premiership-winning Sydney Roosters or even in the NRL for 2014, or return to rugby union in New Zealand as many expect.

Williams' backflip came just hours after New Zealand coach Steve Kearney announced his 24-man squad minus Williams.

Kearney confirmed in a statement on Wednesday that Williams was now back in the selection frame, but his inclusion would have to come at the expense of a selected player as tournament rules allow a maximum squad size of 24.

"We are now exploring options around Sonny's possible inclusion in the tournament. This would require ratification by the World Cup organisers," Kearney said.

Williams said in his Twitter post he hadn't thought the World Cup option through thoroughly before declining selection initially.

"After a few tough seasons topped with an amazing one with the boys at the Roosters, I was then faced with the opportunity to have a long awaited break and go on holiday with my family," he wrote.

"Without thinking the whole situation through thoroughly, I eagerly jumped at the chance to chill out and rest."

His about-face has met a mixed response.

In Wellington, the Dominion Post's Duncan Johnstone said the code-hopping 28-year-old had "belittled" rugby league by expecting the Kiwis tear up their teamsheet and welcome him with open arms because he belatedly deigned to join them.

"Williams is about to test the theory that no player is bigger than a team... Kearney should make a stand and simply tell Williams 'sorry mate, you're too late'," he wrote.

Former Kiwi international Tony Kemp had similar concerns, but was in no doubt Williams would be accommodated, despite his "amateurish" dithering.

"He's the best player in the world, he's got to be in the side... what it's going to show is that Sonny Bill Williams is bigger than rugby league," he told Radio Livesport.

Kemp said Williams's presence would make New Zealand favourites for the World Cup and lift the profile of the entire tournament, which is being held in England and Wales.

Online polls also showed fans were in two minds about the latest drama surrounding Williams, who has polarised opinion since walking out on an NRL contract with league's Canterbury Bulldogs in 2008.

A survey on the Fairfax Media website found almost 60 per cent of respondents did not believe he should be included in the Kiwis squad.

A New Zealand Herald poll had about one-third of fans against him and one third for, with 31 per cent clicking "I've lost interest in the SBW show".




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