Chris Rattue 's Opinion

Chris Rattue is a sports columnist for the New Zealand Herald.

Chris Rattue: Sonny Bill's arrogant but just too good

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Sonny Bill Williams' coming and going shows scant respect for team ethos. Picture / Getty Images
Sonny Bill Williams' coming and going shows scant respect for team ethos. Picture / Getty Images

There's only one hope left for Sonny Bill Williams naysayers like me: the great one turns out to be such a rugby flop this time even his gushing All Blacks handlers can't pick him for the 2015 World Cup and he is also denied his Olympic sevens dream.

It's a forlorn hope of course, especially on the World Cup front. The bloke is too good. Even an SBW knocker like me actually loves watching him play. But he p*&&^% me off for coming and going with scant respect for team ethos. Not only that, but we get force-fed a lot of nonsense from breathless teammates saying what a wonderful influence he is. Pleeeeeeeease. I wonder what some of them really think.

Judging by emails received at this desk over the years, there are plenty of punters who also see him as a bludger who relies on others putting in the hard yards while he cherry picks his way around the sporting globe.

More Sonny Bill coverage:
Sonny Bill given special exemption by NZRU
Williams put on fast track for All Blacks
SBW gives Mt Smart game thumbs-up

The way SBW treated the Kiwis before last year's league World Cup - back tracking on his non-availability after the team naming - was unforgivable. In that extreme case, the Kiwis should have held firm but they bowed and scraped before Mr Wonderful. Tohu Harris copped the hit, getting dumped. What a disgrace.

This SBW infatuation didn't work for the Kiwis, who put up a pathetic defence of the trophy they won without him in 2008. The All Blacks are a different story though - Richie McCaw and co have established such a strong culture that our most famous sports narcissist won't put a spanner in the works.

As for the latest SBW controversy though, the NZRU can't really be faulted for allowing SBW to break its own rule and play on the All Blacks' end-of-year tour without necessarily appearing in the ITM Cup, once his latest NRL stint is over.

There's no point in the highest level of the game being dictated to by a third tier, semi-professional, contrived competition.

The rule, which presumably has something to do with protecting the integrity of the national provincial competition, is the real sham. The ITM Cup isn't a provincial competition - it's Super Rugby reserve grade and as such is used and abused by one and all. It is won year after year by Canterbury, because they are mini-me Crusaders. Of the 30-plus players listed in their ITM Cup squad, barely half are native Cantabrians. Teams from the provincial heartland like Taranaki are stacked with imports. Likewise, players shift around to enhance or save their careers.

Professional sport is a cynical, winner-take-all business. It's the All Black bosses' job to assemble the best team possible for the defence of the trophy which dominates world rugby. The SBW who last played rugby is too good to leave out although I'd hate to see him displace Ma'a Nonu if Nonu is in great form.

It's easy to sit and write, "We don't need the arrogant so and so." But when the weight of a nation is on you, different story. It's a dilemma. I love watching SBW the footballer and know he is a gamebreaker, but I seriously dislike his behaviour.

Debate on this article is now closed.

- NZ Herald

Chris Rattue

Chris Rattue is a sports columnist for the New Zealand Herald.

Chris Rattue writes about a wide range of sports for the New Zealand Herald. He has covered numerous sporting events for the Herald including Rugby World Cups and the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

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