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Sonny Bill Williams: I'll earn my New Zealand team-mates' respect
NEW ZEALAND forward Sonny Bill Williams wants to earn the backing of his Kiwi team-mates following his controversial inclusion in the World Cup squad.
Williams made a dramamtic U-turn earlier this month when he decided that he would feature for the Kiwis in this autumn’s tournament, after the initial touring squad had been announced.
The decision meant New Zealand coach Stephen Kearney had to inform 21-year-old Melbourne Storm star Tohu Harris that his World Cup campaign was over before it had begun.
“There was pressure when I went back to New Zealand,” Williams admitted to the media gathered at the Kiwis’ open training session on Cowley's Hard Lane fields this week.
“But I just want to focus now on the little things to earn the respect of my team-mates. I’m raring to go.
“I’m not frustrated about my decisions and I wouldn’t come here if the other boys didn’t want me.”
The world champions begin their World Cup campaign against Pacific neighbours Samoa in Warrington on Sunday, the country of Williams’ father’s birth.
“I’m always proud of being half-Samoan. But I’m also a proud New Zealander and it’s an honour to represent them,” said Williams, who won the NRL Grand Final with Sydney Roosters earlier this month in the first year of his return to rugby league.
“I probably couldn’t dream about how well this season has gone. I’m just happy to be here and to get to put on that black jersey.
“I’ll play in which position’s best for the team. The biggest thing for us is the little one per-centers.”
Teammate Jason Nightingale has hailed the influence that Williams’ presence has had on the squad.
“It’s been great and has created an air of confidence in the team,” says the St George-Illawarra winger.
“His professionalism is second to none and he’s an awesome talent. We’re just really excited to see him in a Kiwi shirt.”
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