League: Kearney dismisses Sonny Bill's chances of taking playmaker's role

By Michael Brown

Sonny Bill Williams is a target of the Chiefs. Photo / Getty Images
Sonny Bill Williams is a target of the Chiefs. Photo / Getty Images

Kiwis coach Stephen Kearney has no intention of using Sonny Bill Williams as a five-eighth at this year's World Cup, even though the rugby league world is marvelling at his ability to flourish in the halves.

Williams has played the last two games for the Roosters at five-eighth because of injury and unavailability and slotted in seamlessly. It has given rise to the possibility of the 27-year-old filling in there for the World Cup if Benji Marshall switches to union.

The Kiwis are relatively blessed in the halves with Marshall, Kieran Foran, Shaun Johnson and Thomas Leuluai and Kearney has no plans to cloud the picture even more.

"I don't see him as a six," Kearney said. "If Sonny is playing as a 13 he can rove around like a six - a ball-playing 13. If Benji is not there then I would rather have Kieran, Shaun and Thomas filling those positions."

That is assuming Williams is even available for the Kiwis at the World Cup. He made himself available for the Anzac test before injury intervened but doubt lingers about his future.

The Chiefs are trying to tempt him back to rugby next year but Sydney's Daily Telegraph reported yesterday he had agreed to commit to a one-year extension with the Roosters in a deal worth about $1 million.

Williams tried to distance himself from those reports when he tweeted, "I have not signed or committed to anything for next year and won't be doing so until I feel the time is right. My sole focus right now is playing the best I can for the boys and the club."

Little is guaranteed with Williams until it is official and there is also his boxing career but it's hard to see him turning down the attraction of potentially winning a World Cup in two different codes.

Doubt also continues to swirl around Marshall, who is considering a switch to rugby and is weighing up an offer from Sir John Kirwan to join the Blues.

Marshall's agent Martin Tauber said the 28-year-old was serious about the possibility of playing rugby and it could happen in time for this year's ITM Cup.

That would take him out of the World Cup equation but would be a logical step if he is to make the switch and give him game time ahead of next year's Super Rugby competition.

The alternative is to stick with the Wests Tigers, who have tabled another offer.

"My hope is that he stays in rugby league because he's been wonderful for our game and the game has been wonderful for him," Kearney said.

- NZ Herald

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