New Zealand are deep into negotiations with Sonny Bill Williams with a view to him featuring in the World Cup this autumn.
The 28-year-old back rower, widely regarded currently as the best player in either rugby code, was a World Cup winner with the All Blacks before making his return to league this year with the Sydney Roosters.
Williams has yet to announce his plans for 2014 as he contemplates another stint in the 15-man game and the next stage of his boxing career, but he is a prime target for Kiwis head coach Stephen Kearney, whose side will be defending their World Cup trophy in the United Kingdom and France in October and November, and also qualifies for Samoa.
New Zealand team manager and former Wigan winger Tony Iro, who is in England checking on hotels and training facilities ahead of the World Cup and to attend Saturday’s Challenge Cup final, says the Kiwis remain hopeful of having Williams on board.
“We’re in conversation with him,” Iro said. “He needs to make a decision on his next career move and we’re waiting on that.
“We’re obviously very keen to have him available and we’ve talked to him a lot.
“He would be fantastic, not only for New Zealand but for the World Cup.
“He’s been in great form this year. He’s had a massive influence on the Sydney Roosters and I’m sure he would have a similar impact on the Kiwis.”