COMMENT

You can't be serious.

A year out from the Rugby World Cup, a Sydney report reckons Sonny Bill Williams will step into the boxing ring come early December.

I've contacted SBW's agent Khoder Nasser but have yet to get a reply, to confirm or deny.

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But the high-profile Sydney Telegraph sports columnist/writer Phil Rothfield says SBW has signed with a "celebrity agent" named Max Clarkson to fight an unknown opponent in the first week of December.

In other words, injury-hit SBW — still the All Blacks' preferred choice at second five-eighth — will fight about a fortnight after the final test of the year in Italy.

SBW's return to the ring, after a three-year absence, would take place at the Darlington Convention Centre, and be billed as the 'Banger in the Hanger', according to Rothfield's column.

Most top sports ban their star athletes from dangerous activities. Some are very specific — American basketball's NBA prohibits everything from boxing to motorcycling and hang gliding. American football's NFL bans anything with a "significant risk of personal injury".

Sonny Bill Williams in black this year...is that a hand injury? Photo / Photosport
Sonny Bill Williams in black this year...is that a hand injury? Photo / Photosport

Those sports respect the fans who hand over their hard-earned cash to back their teams, not to mention coaches and teammates who deserve to have comrades who give themselves the best possible chance of remaining injury free.

If the report is correct, it is hard to see how SBW could even be ring ready so soon after the rugby season. He is also, remember, a player who had two concussion incidents last year. There is all manner of injury risk in boxing.

The ageing SBW's 2018 season has already been heavily curtailed by injury. If the fight did take place, it shows a lack of commitment to the cause and a lack of professionalism by the All Blacks.

Veteran Cronulla Sharks forward Paul Gallen has been chasing SBW for a boxing date, amid claims SBW was avoiding him.

Last month, SBW declared to Gallen: "To be honest, I'm trying to create a bit of space and a bit of time to get this body right so we can jump in the ring and do that dance."

No declaration of World Cup commitment there.

Lock this bloke in...

This is the sort of bloke the Blues need...Crusaders hard man Luke Romano. Photo / Photosport
This is the sort of bloke the Blues need...Crusaders hard man Luke Romano. Photo / Photosport

Finally, the Blues are putting their house in order.

The New Zealand Rugby buyout of 40 per cent owner Murray Bolton comes hard on the heels of significant coaching appointments, with Leon MacDonald and Tom Coventry to assist embattled head coach Tana Umaga from next year.

From what I've been told, Bolton and former coach John Kirwan got on very well and tensions seem to have first surfaced within the board when a change in directors meant Kirwan lost some of his wider support.

But in the end, these are just splitting hairs because there can be no truly private ownership of rugby franchises. New Zealand Rugby controls everything and has ultimate power through the central contract system.

NZR — sport's answer to the Kremlin — mirrors the old Soviet Union's attitude toward tourism. They want your money, but be damned if you can do what you want.

So private ownership has as much potential to disrupt the New Zealand rugby franchises than embolden them, no matter any noble intentions. It's a national crusade people, and is not to involve any sense of independence or fun.

Moving on...new test prop Karl Tu'inukuafe is heading to the Blues, so which other players might come to town under the new ownership situation?

If this was really professional sport the Blues would be lining up a bloke like Luke Romano from the Crusaders, a tough All Blacks forward, steeped in the highest standards, who has fallen well behind Sam Whitelock and rising star Scott Barrett in the locking pecking order.

Romano would get loads of game time at the Blues, as he looks to make a come-from-behind bid to make the World Cup team.

Not sure if one of the many outstanding Crusaders stalwarts would see the Blues in such a favourable light though.