All Blacks legend Andrew Mehrtens has cried foul after copping some playful jabs from Sonny Bill Williams during a promotion.
All Blacks legend Andrew Mehrtens has cried foul after copping some playful jabs from Sonny Bill Williams during a promotion for Stan Sport.
Cross-code icon Williams was unveiled as a Stan Sport and Nine commentator on Friday and one of his first tasks was teaching his wisecracking new Kiwi colleague how to take a punch.
Williams has retired from the football field but hopes to add a boxing world champion belt to his two Rugby World Cups.
On Stan Sport’s Super Rugby coverage on Friday, Mehrtens took umbrage at being used as a promotional punching bag while host Nick McArdle bagged a sit-down interview with SBW.
“I’m a little bit disgruntled that you got the cushy job of sitting down, having a nice amicable, benign chat with him,” Mehrtens told McArdle.
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“I’m out here trying to do some sort of boxing promotion – I essentially went a round with Sonny Bill and took a shot from him.
“So I was putting myself in harm’s way. There’s a little bit of padding but still, it hurt.
“I’m putting my body on the line, probably for once in my life.”
On a more serious note, Mehrtens praised Williams for his desire to act as a trailblazer for Pasifika people who may want to pursue a career in sports media.
“It’s great to see Sonny’s attitude around putting back because when he was back at the Roosters, in between World Cups, he was incredibly well respected for how he inspired and motivated and set a really good example for the youngsters there,” Mehrtens said.
Another multi-code star, Allana Ferguson, was also impressed at Williams’ willingness to get out of his comfort zone.
“Good on him for putting up his hand and doing it because it is challenging,” Ferguson said.
“He could very well live a comfortable life, he’s got a beautiful family, he probably doesn’t need to work but the fact that he’s doing it for the greater good… he’s a sensational role model. It’s really impressive and exciting for us.”
Former Wallabies centre Morgan Turinui described Williams as “one of the all-time great athletes and rugby players.”
“I can’t wait to learn off him – he might teach me how to tackle properly and everything.”