Sonny Bill Williams has urged Australia’s National Rugby League (NRL) to increase its diversity, where minorities dominate playing rosters but have comparatively little representation within the league’s administration.
Indeed, even though more than half of NRL players have Pasifika, Indigenous Australian or Maori heritage, however, none of the 18 teams’ head coaches have the above-mentioned backgrounds.
Yet, it is known that the NRL regularly advocates its diversity policy, and also claimed that last year more than 50 of its staff identified as being of Indigenous Australian heritage. However, only a few of those 50 occupy positions as senior managers.
Rugby League - Super League - Leeds Rhinos v Toronto Wolfpack - Headingley Stadium, Leeds, Britain - March 5, 2020. Toronto Wolfpack's Sonny Bill Williams. Image credit Action Images/Lee Smith
“I just try to look at things from a perspective of what’s best for my people — Polynesians, Maoris, Aboriginals, the minorities,” explained in an interview Williams, whose father is Samoan.
Williams is a New Zealand professional rugby league footballer who plays as a second row forward for the Sydney Roosters in the National Rugby League, and New Zealand Kiwis at international level.
He has returned to Australia to take up a short-term deal with champions Sydney Roosters, called on prominent NRL figure Phil Gould to promote Pacific islanders and Indigenous Australians in his recently revealed role as a consultant at the New Zealand Warriors.
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“I’d love to see you take someone under your wing and help us thrive, not just on the field ... we’re thriving in that sense.
“What I would like to challenge you to do is help us thrive off the field, whether it be coaches, CEOs or on the boards, that type of level,” added the player.
Dual code international Williams, who won two World Cups with New Zealand’s rugby union team, returned to Australia with his family after being released by the Toronto Wolfpack.
The 35-year-old admitted that he could not see himself heading back to his native New Zealand for more professional football.
“I consider Australia a home even probably more so than New Zealand as far as raising the kids and what-not,” he said.
“I’m a realist. I’m 35, I’m not a spring chicken anymore. I reckon I’ve got maybe one more year max in me.”