The last time Sonny Bill Williams played a rugby league international was the Australian Rugby League's Centenary Test between the Kiwis and the Kangaroos at the Sydney Cricket Ground on May 9, 2008. Photo: Photosport


The New Zealand Rugby League has confirmed Sonny Bill Williams will be turning out for the Kiwis in their Rugby League World Cup defence, joining the players in camp this weekend as they prepare to fly to England.


This is the NZRL's media release:


Sonny Bill Williams has been added to the Kiwis squad for the Rugby League World Cup.


Williams signalled yesterday to the Kiwis coach Stephen Kearney that he had reconsidered his position of not being available for the tournament. Teams have the ability to make changes at this stage and Williams registration has been accepted by World Cup organisers.


Its been a tough situation, but Sonny brings things to the group that we couldnt ignore, said the Kiwis coach Stephen Kearney.


He has had time since his NRL grand final win to clear his head and he wants to represent the Kiwis on the world stage. He missed our 2008 World Cup win and his inclusion will be a great asset in trying to repeat that success this year. Its not only his footballing ability, but also what he brings off the field which will benefit the team.


Williams replaces the Melbourne Storms Tohu Harris in the 24-man Kiwis squad.


The Kiwis were keen to take Harris to the UK in a development role, which would see him travel with the squad and play pre-tournament against the Cook Islands, but the Storm have decided it is in Harriss best interests to stay in Melbourne and have a decent off-season. The 21-year-old, who made his first grade debut for the Storm in the World Club Challenge in the UK in February, will instead bring forward minor surgery.


Tohu handled the situation as well as anyone could, said Kearney.


It was a conversation no coach would like to have, but hes a terrific young man and Im sure hell have many more opportunities to pull on the black jersey. Its been a unique set of circumstances for all involved, but for now our focus is getting set to defend the World Cup with the team we have.