By James MacSmith
Sydney Roosters superstar Sonny Bill Williams is set to play in the NRL Auckland Nines next month, in a huge boost to the fledgling tournament.
Just five days after rugby league great Brad Fittler announced he was coming out of retirement to compete in the inaugural edition of the two-day event, the former Kangaroos skipper said he was anticipating lining up beside dual international Williams.
The inclusion of Williams in the Roosters' side for the Nines would dramatically increase the tournament's profile given the former Rugby World Cup winner's global profile.
In an interview with the Big Sports Breakfast on Tuesday Fittler, 41, said he would be looking to Williams to compensate for his own defensive frailties.
"He'll be defending on my side," Fittler said.
"And I've lined up a young kid Dylan Napa for the other side ... run at me at your own peril."
With Williams eyeing off a spot in the New Zealand side at the 2016 Olympics in Rio, where rugby union sevens will make its Games debut, the nine-a-side rugby league tournament could provide valuable experience for the two-time NRL premiership winner.
Williams' inclusion would also indicate the Roosters' serious intention to add the Nines trophy to their 2013 NRL premiership and possibly the World Club Challenge trophy.
The match against Super League champions Wigan will be played at Allianz Stadium the weekend after the Auckland Nines.
Fittler's return from retirement has already increased interest in the tournament to be held at Eden Park on February 15 and 16.
The former Roosters skipper is expecting a tough time upon his return to rugby league.
"I'm expecting to get hurt, it's just the level of hurt," Fittler said.
Williams will return to Roosters training on Monday with the majority of the club's World Cup stars.
source: newshub archive