Published: 12:32 | 1/8/19

Williams hits out at media speculation

Sonny Bill Williams has hit out at media reports suggesting his place in the All Blacks RWC 2019 squad is under pressure.

The 34-year-old centre has struggled with injury over the past few seasons but has been included in a slimmed down squad ahead of the tournament which starts on September 20th.

However, he has been rested for New Zealand’s Championship match against Australia next week which has prompted speculation in some quarters that he may not be in coach Steve Hansen’s plans for Japan.

The All Blacks have no shortage of talented three-quarters in their ranks including Jack Goodhue, Ngani Laumape and Anton Lienert-Brown which has led some to question whether Hansen needs to take a chance on Williams.

"And for those that say I'm under pressure playing a game that I enjoy. Get your priorities right," he wrote on Twitter.

"Look at what’s going on in the world. Starving children, the single mother raising 3 kids, the atrocities refugees are facing around the world, racism. This is what I call pressure."

"I find it very interesting when so called "private" conversations end up in the media," he said later before adding a quote from civil rights leader Malcolm X: "I have more respect for a man who lets me know where he stands even if he's wrong than the one who comes to me as an angel and is nothing but a devil."

The fact that Williams had a quiet game in the 16-16 draw with the Springboks in Wellington last Saturday only added to the speculation, but Hansen was quick to defend the two-time World Cup winner.

"He hasn't played a lot of rugby and was rusty so we won't get too judgmental about his rugby performance, the fact was his body held together, that was encouraging," he said.

New Zealand are in Pool B of the Rugby World Cup alongside South Africa, Italy, Namibia and Canada. They kick-off their campaign against South Africa on Saturday, September 21st (EXCLUSIVELY LIVE on eir sport).

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