The one and only Sonny Bill Williams has managed to put a plaster on a problem and create a bigger wound.

Then again, is it a wound at all? SBW, a mystery wrapped in a riddle, is back in the headlines after a bit of a lean patch news wise. And rugby has never shied away from his reflected publicity, whether it admits to this or not.

Here's where I think collar-gate has been, and might go, following the huge kerfuffle caused when Blues recruit SBW made his debut against the Highlanders with medical tape covering the BNZ logo on his collar.

The possible story so far: Williams and his manager Khoder Nasser negotiated SBW's contract with New Zealand Rugby - the national body holds all the significant rugby contracts in this country in what is an unusual set-up for professional sport.


NZR has a conscientious objection clause, which allows players to bypass supporting companies from the finance, gambling, alcohol and tobacco sectors. And while SBW is not known to have enacted this right in the past, he did so this time. In relation to his banking stance, SBW's Muslim faith is opposed to interest and fees being charged on loans.

This is where it gets to the murky part, but somehow the message didn't get through or wasn't received by the Blues and SBW didn't feel able to make the necessary fuss.

So he got the standard jersey, with the bank logo on the collar, and dealt with it using medical tape.

In the process, he came across as a trouble maker to some, and he does have a history of acting as if he is bigger than the team (remember the Kiwis, Tohu Harris et al). There are also plenty who have no problem with what he has done.

How will it play out this week? Odds on, it will be described as one of those good ol' fashioned communication breakdowns.

There's another looming problem - Super Rugby is sponsored by Investec, an international banking and asset management group, whose name appears on SBW's sleeve logo. Where that part of the story will end up is anyone's guess for now. But life ain't perfect, and conscientious objections aren't either.

Is this a story worth so much attention? Well yes, on reflection.

For starters, it's refreshing to know that NZR has a conscientious objection clause, and it appears that SBW has broken new ground by not just limiting the objection to skipping promotion events.

It raised questions around freedoms versus economic imperatives, with wide-reaching ramifications if other players took similar stands. Sports bosses can breathe easy, because SBW is a rare maverick with the pulling power to make such moves.

Nasser wasn't saying a heck of a lot yesterday. But you have to give the high profile manager and SBW this - they add an original aspect to what is often a bland New Zealand sports landscape. Challenging the methods of a major sponsor isn't run-of-the-mill.

Nasser had come to New Zealand for SBW's Blues debut in Dunedin, but camped out in Auckland instead when he found that SBW was on the bench. Going all that way for an SBW cameo didn't appeal, and I suspect that sitting on the bench didn't fit in with the manager's view of where his star should be.

He's different, Mr Nasser. The fact is that from the beginning of rugby professionalism in New Zealand, in the mid 1990s, the few dominant player agents have generally done their deals without overly rocking the collective boat. Australia-based Nasser comes from a much tougher market, and works more to his own rules. Conservative NZR will be fine with SBW, but they'd be nervous if Nasser had an extensive rugby client list.

As for the man some of us have seen as narcissistic in his darker hours, Nasser told me SBW was making prison visits yesterday. Go figure.

As for collar-gate, it would have been much more professional if there had been a dedicated jersey without the BNZ logo whereas the plaster idea came across as a publicity-seeking protest action, which is not acceptable. I still think SBW should receive some mild sanction, on those grounds. The bank, meanwhile, has been conciliatory and understanding.

Next question: What will happen with SBW, Investec and the Blues? The All Blacks don't wear the Investec logo, and SBW is apparently okay with major sponsor AIG, an insurance company.