World Cup: New Zealand want Sonny Bill Williams for UK and France defence
New Zealand confirm they are deep in negotiations with Sonny Bill Williams with a view to him featuring in the World Cup
Last Updated: 20/08/13 5:16pm
The 28-year-old back-rower, widely regarded currently as one of the best players in either rugby code, was a union World Cup winner with the All Blacks before making his return to league this year with the Sydney Roosters.
Williams has yet to announce his plans for 2014 as he contemplates another stint in the 15-man game and the next stage of his boxing career, but he is a prime target for Kiwis head coach Stephen Kearney.
Former Hull star Kearney will attempt to mastermind the New Zealanders' successful defence of their World Cup trophy in the United Kingdom and France in October and November.
Williams also qualifies for Samoa but New Zealand team manager and former Wigan winger Tony Iro, who is in England checking on hotels and training facilities and to attend Saturday's Challenge Cup final which pits the Warriors against Hull, is optimistic the forward can be convinced.
"We're in conversation with him," Iro said. "He needs to make a decision on his next career move and we're waiting on that.
"We're obviously very keen to have him available and we've talked to him a lot.
"He would be fantastic, not only for New Zealand but for the World Cup. He's been in great form this year. He's had a massive influence on the Sydney Roosters and I'm sure he would have a similar impact on the Kiwis."