Shock U-turn for SBW?
Sonny Bill Williams (File)
Wellington - Sonny Bill Williams was reportedly poised to make a dramatic backflip on Tuesday and declare himself available for New Zealand in the Rugby League World Cup, after initially snubbing the side.
The dual rugby international was omitted from the 24-man Kiwis squad named on Tuesday after telling selectors he had "other commitments" and would not be going to the October 26 to November 30 tournament.
But reports from Sydney hours after the announcement said the code-hopping 28-year-old had experienced a last-minute change of heart and wanted to help the Kiwis defend the title they won in 2008.
Both the Sydney Morning Herald and the Nine Network, which broadcasts the National Rugby League, carried unsourced reports saying Williams wanted to be part of the New Zealand campaign.
Williams played a major role in the Sydney Roosters' victory in the National Rugby League grand final at the weekend.
His presence at the Rugby League World Cup in England and Wales would be a huge boost for the New Zealanders.
But the rival New Zealand Rugby Union is also looking to secure his services again. Kiwis coach Stephen Kearney was in the dark about the player's plans when he fronted the media to announce his squad.
"I'm sure we'd all like to know what they are, but we'll hear about that in the next two or three weeks," Kearney told reporters.
"There would be no point asking me what his other commitments are because I don't know."
Williams' lucrative sideline as a journeyman boxer further clouds his future, with New Zealand media reporting he is considering a bout against 47-year-old Australian Bob Mirovic in February before the new season begins.
The player began his career in league, winning an NRL title with the Canterbury Bulldogs before quitting to play rugby union in 2008.
He forced his way into the All Blacks, contributing to their 2011 World Cup victory, and claimed the Super Rugby title last year with the Waikato Chiefs.
A move back to the 15-man code would potentially put him in the frame for the All Blacks' 2015 World Cup defence and a spot in the New Zealand sevens team at the 2016 Olympics.
Four of Williams' team-mates from the weekend's grand final were included in the Kiwis' squad -- Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, Sam Moa, Frank-Paul Nu'uausala and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck.
Another Rooster, Shaun Kenny-Dowall, was left out after breaking his jaw in the game, while Kieran Foran was the sole representative from beaten finalists Manly.
Captain Simon Mannering is one of seven survivors from the 2008 World Cup-winning squad, alongside Manu Vatuvei, Thomas Leuluai, Issac Luke, Jason Nightingale, Krisnan Inu and Greg Eastwood.Squad:
Jesse Bromwich (Melbourne Storm), Greg Eastwood (Canterbury Bulldogs), Kieran Foran (Manly Sea Eagles), Alex Glenn (Brisbane Broncos), Bryson Goodwin (South Sydney Rabbitohs), Tohu Harris (Melbourne Storm), Josh Hoffman (Brisbane Broncos), Krisnan Inu (Canterbury Bulldogs), Shaun Johnson (Auckland Warriors), Sam Kasiano (Canterbury Bulldogs), Thomas Leuluai (Auckland Warriors), Kevin Locke (Auckland Warriors), Issac Luke (South Sydney Rabbitohs), Simon Mannering (Auckland Warriors), Ben Matulino (Auckland Warriors), Sam Moa (Sydney Roosters), Jason Nightingale (St George Illawarra Dragons), Frank-Paul Nu'uausala (Sydney Roosters), Frank Pritchard (Canterbury Bulldogs), Elijah Taylor (Auckland Warriors), Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (Sydney Roosters), Manu Vatuvei (Auckland Warriors), Jared Waerea-Hargreaves (Sydney Roosters), Dean Whare (Penrith Panthers)