Sonny Bill Williams has called for more diversity in Australia’s National Rugby League (NRL) with minority groups under-represented in administration positions.
It is in stark contrast to the demographic of the players in the NRL, where minority groups make up a bigger proportion of squads.
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And Williams, who has returned to Australia to take up a short-term deal with champions Sydney Roosters, has called on prominent NRL figure Phil Gould to promote Pacific islanders and Indigenous Australians after Gould became a consultant with the New Zealand Warriors.
“I just try to look at things from a perspective of what’s best for my people – Polynesians, Maoris, Aboriginals, the minorities,” New Zealander Williams told Channel Nine.
“I’d love to see you take someone under your wing and help us thrive, not just on the field. Obviously 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.”
More than half of NRL players have Pasifika, Indigenous Australian or Maori heritage but none of the head coaches of the 18 teams have those backgrounds.
The NRL regularly champions its diversity policy and has reportedly said that more than 50 of its staff identified as being of Indigenous Australian heritage, yet few occupy positions in senior management.
Dual code international Williams, who won two rugby union World Cups with New Zealand, returned to Australia with his family after being released by the Toronto Wolfpack.
Williams said his move to Sydney felt like a homecoming but acknowledged his playing career is on borrowed time.
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