Sonny Bill Williams likely to wear special Blues jersey without logos of two major sponsors
Sonny Bill Williams is likely to get dispensation to wear a Blues jersey without the logos of two major rugby sponsors.
Stuff understands a statement is being prepared from New Zealand Rugby, the Blues, Investec and the BNZ on Tuesday. All are expected to state they have no issue with Williams' conscientious objection to wearing bank logos on his playing shirt. The hold-up is waiting for comment from Investec's office in South Africa.
Williams caused a stir by taping over the BNZ bank logo on his jersey in his Blues' Super Rugby debut, against the Highlanders in Dunedin last Saturday night. The issue is yet to be fully explained by Williams, but is believed to have been due to his Muslim faith, which goes against the notion of banks charging interest and fees on loans.
While the Blues were unaware he would tape over the logo, Williams' management is confident the clause was included in his New Zealand Rugby contract.
BNZ has said they did not have a problem with Williams' decision to cover up their logos.
Once all parties confirm their support for his stance, the next logical step is to provide him with a "clean" jersey for the Blues next match against the Hurricanes at Eden Park on Saturday.
The "clean" jersey would not feature the BNZ logo on his collar, nor one Investec slogan on the arm, NZME reported.
Williams wore Blues team-mate Declan O'Donnell's hoodie at training on Tuesday in order to cover up logos on his training kit. The All Blacks midfielder is also now likely to receive Blues training gear free from sponsors he opposes.
It is understood Williams has no issue with AIG, one of the All Blacks' main sponsors.
New Zealand Rugby Players Association chief executive Rob Nichol said all players were able to lodge conscientious objections that allowed them to opt out of promoting finance companies, banks, alcohol companies, tobacco companies and gambling companies.
And Williams' stance is not unprecedented in international sport. South African cricketers Hashim Amla and Imran Tahir, who are both Muslim and friends of Williams, refuse to wear clothing featuring the Proteas' main sponsor, Castle Lager.
The pair have been given special dispensation to wear specially-made uniforms without the beer company's logo. They do so because drinking alcohol is strictly forbidden in their faith.
The All Blacks often have Steinlager sponsorship logos on their training gear, and it is not known whether Williams has also red-flagged that.