Rugby League World Cup 2013: NZ star Williams opts out

Rugby League World Cup

  • Dates: 26 October to 30 November

Coverage: Live BBC TV, radio and online coverage of all England's group matches and Wales v Italy, plus one quarter-final, one semi-final and the final

Sonny Bill Williams will not feature in New Zealand's defence of the Rugby League World Cup after telling selectors he had "other commitments".

The 28-year-old, who helped the Sydney Roosters win Sunday's NRL Grand Final,  is tipped for a return to rugby union.

Sonny is unavailable due to other commitments. What they are at this stage, I'm sure we would all like to know

Kiwis coach Stephen Kearney

However, four of his Roosters team-mates have been selected, including ex-Hull FC prop Sam Moa.

Moa, 27, has eight caps for Tonga, including against Samoa in April, but has opted to switch nationalities.

Williams started his career in league, winning an NRL title with the Canterbury Bulldogs before quitting to play rugby union in 2008 and helping the All Blacks win the 2011 World Cup.

He made a return to league but is now thought to be pondering a move back to the 15-man code.

"Sonny is unavailable due to other commitments," said Kiwis coach Stephen Kearney. "What they are at this stage, I'm sure we would all like to know and I'm sure we will hear all about that over the next two or three weeks."

Along with Moa, Roosters winger Roger Tuivasa-Sheck has been given a first call-up by coach Stephen Kearney.

But club-mate Shaun Kenny-Dowall will miss the tournament because of a fractured jaw he picked up in the Grand Final.

Jeremy Smith is absent for personal reasons, while Benji Marshall, so long a key figure in the national team, signed in the summer for rugby union's Auckland Blues.

NZ's World Cup Group B fixtures

  • 27 Oct v Samoa, Warrington
  • 1 Nov v France, Avignon
  • 8 Nov v Papua New Guinea, Leeds

However, ex-Wigan half-back Thomas Leuluai and Greg Eastwood, who had a spell with Leeds in 2010, are both included in the 24-man squad, which will be captained by Simon Mannering.

The Kiwis will play the Cook Islands in a warm-up match at Doncaster's Keepmoat Stadium on Sunday, 20 October.

They then face group games against Samoa (27 October), France (1 November) and Papua New Guinea (8 November).

Meanwhile, Tonga have included three Super League players in their squad with Ukuma Ta'ai from Huddersfield joined by Mickey Paea of Hull KR and St Helens' Willie Manu.

The side, captained by Brent Kite, will face Scotland and Italy in Group C.

New Zealand: Jesse Bromwich (Melbourne Storm), Greg Eastwood (Canterbury Bulldogs), Kieran Foran (Manly Sea Eagles), Alex Glenn (Brisbane Broncos), Bryson Goodwin (South Sydney Rabbitohs), Tohu Harris (Melbourne Storm), Josh Hoffman (Brisbane Broncos), Krisnan Inu (Canterbury Bulldogs), Shaun Johnson (NZ Warriors), Sam Kasiano (Canterbury Bulldogs), Thomas Leuluai (NZ Warriors), Kevin Locke (NZ Warriors), Issac Luke (South Sydney Rabbitohs), Simon Mannering (NZ Warriors), Ben Matulino (NZ Warriors), Sam Moa (Sydney Roosters), Jason Nightingale (St George Illawarra Dragons), Frank-Paul Nu'uausala (Sydney Roosters), Frank Pritchard (Canterbury Bulldogs), Elijah Taylor (NZ Warriors), Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (Sydney Roosters), Manu Vatuvei (NZ Warriors), Jared Waerea-Hargreaves (Sydney Roosters), Dean Whare (Penrith Panthers).

Tonga: Brent Kite (Manly/capt), Sosaia Feki (Cronulla Sharks), Glen Fisi'iahi (NZ Warriors), Mahe Fonua (Melbourne Storm), Daniel Foster (Penrith Panthers), Sydney Havea (Liahona Old Boys), Siliva Havili (NZ Warriors), Konrad Hurrell (NZ Warriors), Samisoni Langi (Sydney Roosters), Siuatonga Likiliki (Newcastle Knights), Sika Manu (Penrith Panthers), Willie Manu (St Helens), Nesiasi Mataitonga (Cronulla Sharks), Fuifui Moimoi (Paramatta Eels), Ben Murdoch-Masila (Wests Tigers), Mickey Paea (Hull KR), Pat Politoni (Cronulla Sharks), Nafe Seluini (Sydney Roosters), Ukuma Ta'ai (Huddersfield Giants), Jorge Taufua (Manly), Jason Taumalolo (North Queensland Cowboys), Peni Terepo (Parramatta Eels), Daniel Tupou (Sydney Roosters), Siosaia Vave (Melbourne Storm).