Sonny Bill Williams has gifted his Rugby World Cup winner’s medal to a young supporter in an act of compassion following the final at Twickenham.
The cross-code international says he felt for the fan, who was tackled by a security guard when he tried to enter the field of play in the wake of New Zealand’s 34-17 win over Australia.
“He was only eight and the other fella was a full-on man, so it looked like he would break his ribs or something,” Williams said.
“The moment probably just got the better of him but he was just so excited to get on the field with the All Blacks. I felt sorry for him so I thought I’d make it a night to remember for him.”
The boy, whose name is reportedly Charlie Lines, showed off the medal to the world’s media and was mobbed by other supporters.
Williams, who has a winner’s medal from 2011, says the medal was in a better place than hanging around his own neck.
“He can tell that story for years to come. He might be a future All Black.
“When he gets older he’ll be telling his kids things like that. That’s more special than having it hanging up on my wall at home.”
Williams hopes his act and the off-field demeanour of the world champions throughout the tournament has painted them in a positive light.
They had made a point over the last seven weeks of trying to shed any negativity that might surround their image.
Williams made waves on social media last weekend when images emerged of him consoling Springboks centre Jesse Kriel soon after fulltime in their semi-final.
Coach Steve Hansen said they had tried to make a point to win over their critics.
“There are a lot of people who have realised we aren’t the big bad ogres we are sometimes printed to be in the media in this part of the world.
“We are ordinary people who can play rugby reasonably well. Life is too short to be serious all the time. If you are serious all the time it’s boring,” he said.