Rugby: Prime Minister Bill English slams SBW sponsor snub

Prime Minister BIll English has weighed in on Sonny Bill Williams' decision to cover up a bank sponsor's logo during a game, saying it's hard to understand why one player would act differently to the rest.

Williams put himself back in the news by taping over the BNZ logo on his Blues jersey in his Super Rugby comeback on Saturday night.

It's been seen as a religious stand by Williams, a Muslim, who was playing his first match in the 15-man game since the 2015 World Cup final, after recovering from a ruptured Achilles tendon suffered at the Rio Olympics sevens.

Asked about it this morning, English reluctantly weighed in.

"It is hard to understand that one guy has to behave differently than the rest," he told Newshub. "I don't understand all these professional contracts, but if you're in the team, you're in the team.

"You wear the team jersey ... but they'll sort it out."

While the NZR was unaware that Williams planned to plaster over the logo on his collar in Saturday's loss to the Highlanders, a spokesman told NZME there wouldn't be a misconduct charge and it was an issue for the Blues to handle.

He said any player could lodge a conscientious objection to promoting finance, alcohol, tobacco, gambling companies and banks.

Sonny Bill Williams of the Blues looks on during the Super Rugby match against the Highlanders. Photo/Getty Images
Sonny Bill Williams of the Blues looks on during the Super Rugby match against the Highlanders. Photo/Getty Images

Blues assistant coach Steve Jackson said the matter would be addressed with Williams' management during the week.

A BNZ spokeswoman said the bank didn't have a problem with Williams' action.

"He's entitled to have religious beliefs and customs around that, and it's really between him and the Blues, as to how that manifests itself," she told Fairfax Media.

"So we have no issue with it."

-AAP

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