World Rugby’s eligibility rule change came too late for Sonny Bill Williams, and it may have cost the code the chance to see the former All Black wear the blue of Manu Samoa at the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.
Nevertheless, it would be awesome if they could tempt the World Cup-winning centre out of retirement for one last international cap. Looking at his boxing training, he’s definitely still in incredible shape.
When asked if he’d swap nations, he said: “One hundred per cent,”
“I kind of did it [representing Samoa] but going back to Tana [Umaga] and what he was trying to achieve at the Blues.
“Obviously, we didn’t achieve everything we wanted to, but I was in that space that I was well aware of what we could represent and what we could achieve as Polynesians and Māori. So, yes, I definitely would have entertained that idea.
“No one wants to see the All Blacks beating Tonga by 100 points, because that’s not a true representation of the competitiveness and the quality of players that Tonga has produced,” Williams said.
“If we had more competitive game, more high-profile players playing in them, then you’d get more money in the game. We all the know the politics in sport, especially in the islands, but it’s a step in the right direction [the eligibility change].’
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Five England stars you didn’t know can swap nations for 2023 Rugby World Cup
Below, we pick out five England players you didn’t know could swap nations ahead of the 2023 Rugby World Cup, either immediately or in the run-up to the tournament.
#1. Zach Mercer (England to New Zealand)
- Age: 24
- Position: Number 8
- Current number of caps: 2
- Last cap: November, 2018
- Did you know? His father is former rugby league footballer and coach Gary Mercer, who played for New Zealand and the New Zealand Māori rugby league team