Singapore Rugby Sevens 2016

Medal giveaways no big deal: Sonny Bill Williams

Sonny Bill Williams at an All Blacks training session ahead of the Singapore Sevens this weekend at the National Stadium.
Sonny Bill Williams at an All Blacks training session ahead of the Singapore Sevens this weekend at the National Stadium.ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

Rugby fans could be in for a treat this weekend at the Singapore Sevens if All Blacks star Sonny Bill Williams' recent acts of generosity are anything to go by.

The 30-year-old New Zealand sevens player has been making headlines for giving away his medals to fans. He did it last week at the Hong Kong Sevens by handing his runner-up Cup to a lucky youngster and most famously, gave his Rugby World Cup winners gong last year to a teenage boy.

However, Williams insists that his kind gestures have been exaggerated by the media.

"It's blown out of proportion," he said after the All Blacks' first training session yesterday morning at Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) ahead of the tournament.

"Most of the boys gave their Cups away for the Hong Kong tournament, so I don't see it as a big deal."

He also refused to get drawn into speculation about his fitness for the Olympics, after he sat out of the Las Vegas and Vancouver legs of the World Rugby Sevens Series.

"For myself, it's just about fitting in with the team," Williams said.

"I don't worry about the talk that's going on out there, I just worry about having my team-mates' respect and whether my coaches think I'm on the right track.

"If I keep working hard and stay injury-free, I'll be able to get there."

New Zealand are second in the World Series standings on 123 points, five points behind Fiji.

Despite the gruelling schedule of the tournament, Williams says he is pleased with his recovery process.

However, he admitted that playing in the second tournament in as many weeks would be difficult.

"It's pretty tough," he said. "But that's just one of the things about playing sevens. It's just a mental challenge, not just physical.

"One of the sayings in our team is, 'It is what it is' and that's exactly the mentality we've got to take into this weekend."

The All-Blacks open their Singapore Sevens campaign against France on Saturday. And maybe, just maybe, a fan can walk away from the National Stadium with a piece of memorabilia from Williams.

•Tickets are available at www.sportshubtix.sg, Singapore Indoor Stadium and Singpost outlets.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 15, 2016, with the headline 'Medal giveaways no big deal: Williams'. Print Edition | Subscribe