League: No Sonny Bill in Kiwis squad

The Kiwis will aim to defend the Rugby League World Cup in next month. Photo / Getty Images
The Kiwis will aim to defend the Rugby League World Cup in next month. Photo / Getty Images

Sonny Bill Williams will not play in the upcoming Rugby League World Cup, with the NRL title winner making himself unavailable for selection for the New Zealand side.

It is a blow to the Kiwis, who will defend the title they won in 2008, but not an unexpected result given Williams' boxing commitments and likely return to rugby union.

Coach Stephen Kearney this morning named his 24-man squad to contest the World Cup, when they will take on Samoa, France and Papua New Guinea in pool play, with Roosters prop Sam Moa and Roosters winger Roger Tuivasa-Sheck the only newcomers.

Roosters centre Shaun Kenny-Dowall will miss the tournament because of a fractured jaw he picked up in Sunday night's NRL grand final and Jeremy Smith is absent for personal reasons.

"Sonny is unavailable due to other commitments and what they are at this stage, I'm sure we would all like to know and I'm sure we will hear all about that over the next two or three weeks," Kearney said.

"I spoke to Sonny and his agent yesterday. I have been working with them for quite some time in terms of his availability. I don't know [what he's doing].

"We had planned for Sonny not coming away. It was the general feeling I had throughout the year. We were planning that he wasn't going to come and most people were probably thinking that, too.

"It would have been great to have all three of those players [who are unavailable] with the group. They all add something and would have been great assets for the team but I'm really, really pleased with the team. The quality of depth and the players who haven't been selected, I think that says a lot about the depth of our squad at the moment. I'm really excited about what we have to work with."

Moa's selection continues a breakthrough year for the 2003/2004 Junior Kiwi, while Tuivasa-Sheck, who was 18th man for the Kiwis against the Kangaroos this year in Canberra, is the youngest in the team at 20.

Tohu Harris, at 21, is another in the squad to have risen through the ranks quickly, having only made his first grade debut this year for the Melbourne Storm.

Warriors skipper Simon Mannering will captain the side.

Five players from the NRL grand final, including four from the champion Sydney Roosters side feature in the squad, while seven play for the Warriors.

Kiwis squad for the Rugby League World Cup starting on October 26 (NZT):
Backs: Josh Hoffman, Kevin Locke, Jason Nightingale, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Manu Vatuvei, Bryson Goodwin, Krisnan Inu, Dean Whare, Kieran Foran, Shaun Johnson, Thomas Leuluai.

Forwards: Issac Luke, Jesse Bromwich, Sam Kasiano, Ben Matulino, Sam Moa, Frank-Paul Nuuausala, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, Greg Eastwood, Alex Glenn, Tohu Harris, Simon Mannering, Frank Pritchard, Elijah Taylor.


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