Ex-All Blacks midfielder Sonny Bill Williams had waded into the debate over the threatened players’ strike ahead of Wales hosting England in the Guinness Six Nations on February 25. It emerged on Tuesday evening that all professional players in Wales, including those in the national squad under Warren Gatland, are to hold a crunch meeting where a possible strike will be discussed.
The revelation ignited a huge storm on social media, with rugby fans having plenty to say about the state of the sport in Wales. Some players also chipped in and it was a tweet from the currently injured Uilisi Halaholo that tempted Williams to have his say on the budgetary crisis.
Halaholo, the former Hurricanes Super Rugby centre, has played for Cardiff since the 2016/17 season, going on to make his Wales debut in February 2021 after qualifying under the residency rules. The 32-year-old has been sidelined since a serious hamstring injury sustained while playing for Cardiff in the URC against the Stormers, his second significant setback with that type of injury in 2022.
Having read about the reported strike threat, Halaholo tweeted: “Must be nice knowing you can still provide for your kids in about four months… especially when you get injured putting body on the line for your club. Now you got less chance of trying to get a contract somewhere to provide for your family because of injury. Mental health is real. Stay strong.”
His comment was picked up by Williams, whose reply to the Wales player read: “Name me another ‘business’ where the ‘employees’ are treated this way. First NRL, now the footy players up north are starting to stand up for their rights! Organisations are making 100s of millions of $ a year of the back of these players and this is how they are treated.”
Name me another “business” where the “employees” are treated this way. first NRL now the footy players up north are starting to stand up for their rights! Organisations are making 100s of millions of $ a year of the back of these players and this is how they’re treated https://t.co/PKhN48Ejbj
— Sonny Bill Williams (@SonnyBWilliams) February 14, 2023
Williams later added: “Just curious – what’s the salary cap for board members and suits? Time to start championing the player over the organisation. If you stand for nothing you will fall for anything #PlayersFirst.” Halaholo responded: “Big love my uso.”
He then posted further tweets elaborating on his initial messages. “Just speaking up on behalf of the regular club players that have the most uncertainty. Y’all don’t know but I feel the anxiety in the changing room chat with the boys post trainings. Just looking out for my bradas… C’mon Big Dogs we need y’all.
“What I mean by this tweet is I don’t let my tweets affect selection for red jersey. That is why I feel so many haven’t spoken up. Just let my rugby talk but it is what it is. Just take it on the chin for my bradas. All I say ask is in terms of the next level… Don’t judge me for my tweets. Judge me for my performances on the field.”