Efforts to get Sonny Bill Williams to renew his New Zealand Rugby Union contract have taken a new twist with Williams' ally, boxer Anthony Mundine, taking a swipe at the All Black coaches.
Williams could not even make the bench for Saturday's Tri-Nations decider between the All Blacks and the Wallabies in Brisbane and head coach Graham Henry said he rated incumbent Ma'a Nonu as the best No.12 in the world.
Unlike most of the other All Blacks, Williams has yet to re-sign with the NZRU beyond the looming World Cup with the protracted negotiations stumbling over a sponsorship clash.
Williams' manager Khoder Nasser wants compensation for his star player after the NZRU vetoed a sponsorship deal for Williams to endorse a product that is a rival to an All Blacks sponsor.
Williams management also knows a high profile World Cup would add enormously to the player's value but that appeared to be a fading hope after Henry was unable to even find a place for Williams on the bench against Australia.
"He'll get his opportunity, [but] can he be better than the best No.12 in the world?" Henry said, comparing Williams with Nonu.
He said Williams may have been a first-choice selection in other teams he's played for in a high-profile Rugby League and Rugby Union career, but with strong competition in the All Blacks camp "he's not guaranteed a run-on spot".
Mundine, a former World boxing champion and another member of the Nasser stable, joined the debate about Williams with a series of tweets Saturday questioning whether it was more than just form that lead to Williams' omission from the Wallabies Test.
"Why the hell ain't the all blacks playing SBW ... I think it's crazy??? he one of best if not the best backs in game!!! is there an agenda???" he tweeted, adding that Nonu "was not on the same level" as Williams.
"There gotta questions ask if he don't Start the world cup."
Gilbert has released a new line of rugby cleats. The Gilbert Virtuo 8S is part of the exciting new product. Check it out.
The entire All Blacks apparel line has been updated for 2013/14. Check out the New Zealand All Blacks polo.
The Nike Tiempo is a solid rugby cleat and one of few styles still made from full-grain natural leather.
The Gilbert Blitz 8S rugby cleat is a great cleat at a great price of $69.99. Get a new pair of cleats today.
A cool looking all black rugby cleat with the high performance adidas is known for. Get in the Gear!
Wear the crest of the British and Irish Lions on your t-shirt. A great look for the summer.
The All Blacks Performance t-shirt is black with hints of blue from the training jersey. Very Cool.
The New Zealand All Blacks training jersey for 2013/14. Get in the Gear!
The USA Rugby Pro Alternate rugby jersey is perfect for any fan of the Eagles. Get yours to wear during the summer Test matches.
The NEW All Blacks 2013/14 jersey has arrived at World Rugby Shop. Dare to wear the colors of the All Blacks.