Super Rugby: Blues back Sonny Bill Williams' Christchurch hiatus

The Blues are fully behind Sonny Bill Williams' decision to miss Friday's Super Rugby game against the Highlanders.

He'll instead travel to Christchurch to support a grieving Muslim community.

Teams wouldn't normally let one of their biggest stars sit out a vital match, but these aren't ordinary times and Williams certainly isn't an ordinary rugby player.

"We admire what he stands for," said Blues assistant coach Tom Coventry. "And the fact that he would like to go down there and grieve, and be part of the support for the region and the people of New Zealand... he has our best wishes."

Stints in union and league, with forays into boxing, haven't endeared Williams to some fans, but the 33-year-old's becoming a figure of unification, and - for the Blues - a leader on and off the field.

"Sonny's just a pro," said Blues player TJ Faiane. "That's the biggest thing as a midfielder and a young guy coming through."

"He's a good bloke, as well. He cares about everyone and just wants the best for the team."

Even before the events of Friday, the Blues have struggled with the sudden death of former teammate Mike Tamoaieta.

"It's been an emotional month for the boys, and rugby's a good distraction," says Coventry.

"We're a microcosm of society, I suppose, and sport to me has always been a way of getting our children, getting our people, involved in our community and embracing our community differences."

Even if that means temporarily letting go of one of your best players.


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