Rugby star Sonny Bill Williams has put aside his natural shyness to step up and take a leadership role for his Muslim brothers and sisters after the mosque terror attack.

The dual code legend and prominent Kiwi Muslim attended an emotional Friday prayer in Hagley Park this afternoon.

Thousands of Cantabrians were there to show their support for the Islamic community after the attack which left 50 people dead last Friday.

Sonny Bill Williams arriving for the call to Prayer at Hagley Park in Christchurch. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Sonny Bill Williams arriving for the call to Prayer at Hagley Park in Christchurch. Photo / Mark Mitchell

The Blues are set to play the Highlanders at Eden Park tonight but Williams is on a hiatus from the team to support the people of Christchurch.

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Williams said, as a proud Muslim, he wanted to show he was a proud New Zealander too.

After the initial shock of Friday's attack, he said he's had to put aside any natural shyness to stand up as a leader and "show we are Muslims but New Zealanders too".

He thanked the New Zealand public and his "rugby boys" for all the support he has received.

"It's been humbling."

With such a tragic event, the overwhelming public response shows they care, Williams said.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has impressed with her response, and Williams said it shows how Kiwis wear their hearts on their sleeves.

Williams said he put aside his natural shyness to support the people of Christchurch. Photo / Alan Gibson
Williams said he put aside his natural shyness to support the people of Christchurch. Photo / Alan Gibson

Now, it's time to talk about hatred and racism, as well as the "ugly side of politics", he said.

His message is one of "unity, peace and love: the core message of what Islam is".

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Last night he spent several hours with a victim who has lost his brother in the terror attack.

Williams said he thought he would be giving the strength but found it was coming the other way.

Williams has taken time of from the Blues. Photo / Alan Gibson
Williams has taken time of from the Blues. Photo / Alan Gibson

The Al Noor Mosque was where he used to pray while he played rugby for the Crusaders.

He said the events of Friday were "very sad, very close to home".

Williams wouldn't be drawn on the Crusaders name change debate, saying that was a discussion for another day.