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SBW in talks with NZRU

By Ian McCullough

SYDNEY, Oct 10 AAP/AFP - Speculation Sonny Bill Williams is set to return to rugby has intensified after the cross-code superstar was filmed meeting Chiefs head coach Dave Rennie
SBW in talks with NZRU
by AAP

By Ian McCullough

SYDNEY, Oct 10 AAP/AFP - Speculation Sonny Bill Williams is set to return to rugby has intensified after the cross-code superstar was filmed meeting Chiefs head coach Dave Rennie.

Williams and his agent Khoder Nasser were spotted by Fox Sports News cameras having lunch in Sydney with Rennie, his assistant coach Wayne Smith and NZRU general manager of professional rugby Neil Sorensen.

The 28-year-old, who helped the Sydney Roosters win the NRL premiership on Sunday, looked set to walk away from rugby league when he made himself unavailable for the Rugby League World Cup on Monday.

However, later that day he contacted New Zealand coach Stephen Kearney to say he now wanted to help the Kiwis defend their crown in the UK later this month meaning young Melbourne back-rower Tohu Harris was sacrificed to accommodate Williams.

Williams faced a barrage of criticism in his homeland for his U-turn, but said he would not be able to live with himself if he missed the chance to help the Kiwis retain the trophy they won in 2008.

"I couldn't look at myself in the mirror so I had to make the phone call and say I was available," Williams told the BBC World Service.

Harris said he was "bitterly disappointed", while his parents were left scrambling to cancel plane tickets from New Zealand to Britain they had booked expecting to see their 21-year-old son in action.

"I'm sorry for taking someone else's spot," Williams said, adding that he initially snubbed the Kiwis because he felt he needed a break after helping the Roosters win the premiership.

"In 10 years I'd have had regrets about not making myself available, I've got a lot of time after I'm retired.

"It can be played off as selfish, but I just left it (the selection decision) in the coach's hands. Now that I'm there, don't expect anything other than a full-hearted performance."

Australia skipper Cameron Smith, who plays alongside Harris at Melbourne said he felt sympathy for his teammate, but could understand why the Kiwis made the tough decision.

"I feel disappointed for Tohu on being withdrawn from their squad," Smith said.

"He's going to be extremely disappointed. He's had a terrific season for us at Melbourne.

"He played for a few minutes in the Test at Canberra and he did well. But he is a young guy and will bounce back.

"But the New Zealand selectors have made their decision and it has nothing to do with us.

"But I completely understand their decision, he is a terrific player and it shows how badly they want to win this tournament."




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