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Sonny Bill Williams stars in NRL's Samoa bid

CHRIS BARCLAY
Last updated 07:13 14/08/2014
Sonny Bill Williams
Getty Images
SUPERSTAR: Sonny Bill Williams is expected to return from a thumb injury and turn out for the Sydney Roosters in their clash with the Warriors in Auckland on Sunday.

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As Sonny Bill Williams' second stint as a NRL player draws to an amicable close, the code's governing body will be using him in a promotional role in Samoa before he returns to New Zealand rugby.

In stark contrast to his controversial mid-season exit from the Bulldogs in 2008, Williams will be on excellent terms with his club when leaving for the Chiefs and All Blacks - though not necessarily in that order - at the end of the Sydney Roosters' premiership defence.

Currently sidelined with a thumb injury that will prevent him playing the Warriors in Auckland on Sunday week, Williams would travel to the islands of his heritage on Sunday alongside NRL chief executive David Smith to implement a new Pacific strategy.

Kangaroos coach Tim Sheens would also take part in the three-day mission while test, New South Wales and Parramatta star Jarryd Hayne and other players with a Fijian background would visit there later this year.

The strategy was designed to strengthen league in the region and build stronger ties between the NRL and local businesses and communities in Samoa, Fiji, Tonga and Papua New Guinea.

Smith, who said about 37 per cent of current NRL players originated form the Pacific Islands, said the delegations would include meetings with government officials, football clinics plus education and health programmes for children.

Williams said he was looking forward to contributing to the Samoa excursion before rejoining the Roosters bid for back-to-back titles.

"I don't think there is anything better than knowing you helped change someone's life for the better," he said.

"If we can educate Samoan school children about nutrition and healthy lifestyles - and throw in some football skills as well - it will be a great outcome."

Inevitably, Williams was also asked about his future and he offered a glimmer of hope to league fans - and officials - that would like him to return to the game once his New Zealand Rugby Union contract expired at the end of 2016.

"This is my last year at the Roosters ... for now," the 29-year-old said, teasing: "Anything is possible."

He was also coy about whether he would be available for the All Blacks end of year tour to the UK via a test with the United States in Chicago on November 2.

'My full focus is on the Roosters," he said, though he would record Saturday's Bledisloe Cup test at ANZ Stadium because it coincided with the Roosters' clash with the Wests Tigers.

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"Hopefully the boys get up. The Wallabies are in some good form so it's going to be a good match."

- Stuff

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