Sonny Bill Williams commits to Kiwis team
Sonny Bill Williams has declared his availability for the Kiwis rugby league team for next month's Anzac Test - raising the prospect of the cross-code superstar chasing an elusive World Cup double later this year.
There had been conjecture over whether Williams would be interested in resurrecting his Kiwis career after returning to the NRL with the Sydney Roosters.
Australian media reports last month suggested he could instead opt to represent Samoa - as early as April 20 when they play Tonga in Sydney.
But the former All Black today said his goal was the play for the Kiwis against the Kangaroos in Canberra the night before - although he was taking nothing for granted just three games into his return to league.
"I'd love to say yes if my form warrants it," he said, when quizzed about his Kiwis aspirations.
"I'll definitely be putting my hand up. We'll just have to see how we go. At this stage it's about trying to keep my spot at the Roosters, trying to play good consistent footy."
Williams played the last of his seven tests in 2008 and although he would only have played a maximum of six games before the traditional one-off test Kiwis coach Stephen Kearney will likely see the damaging ball runner as an asset, regardless of his limited build-up.
Providing his season goes to plan Williams would also be a contender for the World Cup in the UK, Ireland and France in October and November - though he would be off-contract and a return to rugby has been touted as a possibility for 2014.
His professional boxing career is another potential stumbling block.
If Williams made the World Cup and the Kiwis defended their crown he would become the first player to win a rugby and rugby league world cup - Wendell Sailor and Mat Rogers won the league World Cup in 2000 and three years later were in the Wallabies team beaten by England in the final of rugby's showpiece event.
Despite his high profile, Williams has been solid rather than spectacular since returning to the code he abandoned in 2008 for French club rugby.
He made his comeback off the interchange bench in round one against South Sydney and was then promoted to the run-on side's second row against the New Zealand Warriors and Brisbane.
He also starts against Parramatta in the final fourth round clash tomorrow night.
Heading into the Eels clash at the Sydney Football Stadium Williams has recorded a try, one line break and four of his trademark offloads - he was busy defensively against the Broncos last weekend, racking up 38 tackles.
"Things have been going pretty well," he said, accepting scrutiny was part of the ball game.
"I don't worry about what's going on outside, what people are saying and things like that. I just worry about doing my job," he said.
"For me it's just about doing the little things well, the one percenters and making sure I'm diligent in my preparation.
"If I'm like that it always seems to fall into place. I'm happy with how I'm going but there's still a bit to go."
Williams said he was still developing "the feel" for the game though he was satisfied with his defensive work and limited opportunities on attack.
He thought the major difference to the game he left in 2008 was the physical stature of his teammates and opponents.
"The boys are a lot stronger, the game is a bit of a fitness session out there,' he said, lamenting how matches often resembled an arm wrestle.
"Most teams are playing the same. It's just a battle of will every time you step out on to that field.
"When I left the game it was a lot more open, a lot more free flowing.
"I think it just goes to show the amount of athletes we have in the game at the moment, they're big, strong, fit, fast."