Sonny Bill Williams: Māori and Pasifika players must stay resilient

By Tamati Tiananga

Former All Black Sonny Bill Williams has opened up on the demons and struggles young Māori or Pasifika players face in the sporting arena.

In his autobiography, written with Māori author Alan Duff, he lifts the lid on his own struggles. The biography, named Can't Stop The Sun from Shining, tells the story from his dark times through to the bright lights.

“I think for so long from a sporting context we put that mask on where we are so strong, and we show a picture of masculinity and we've got everything worked out, but it was easy to write my book and show my frailties and show the demons and struggles," Williams says.  "I continue to have them. I know there are a lot of Pacific Islander and Māori kids that have that.”

The 36-year-old says for almost 16 years, he has had to live a life in the spotlight.

Empowering his people

“I walk and talk a big game to help empower my people who have come from similar backgrounds and knowing how hard that is coming from where we come from,” Williams says.

In his stellar career in rugby, rugby league, boxing, and to this point in his life, the sporting superstar says he has learnt a lot.

"I’m by no means perfect and the book shows this. I have so many struggles, mental issues and confidence issues and I talk a little bit about it in the book. But I also talk about how I've taken the discipline in a sporting context off the field to strive to be a better man.”

In an interview with former All Black and close friend and Te Ao Toa presenter Liam Messam, Sonny Bill Williams shares his time living in the Waikato and playing for the Chiefs.

“During the 2011 World Cup I enjoyed playing down there and I always connected with the people down there and they always showed me mad love and, along with our brotherhood, it was an easy fit,” Williams says.