The return of All Blacks star Sonny Bill Williams to the playing field was not without controversy, after he blocked out the logo on his jersey of an Auckland Blues sponsor.
Williams, a frequent user of social media, has not commented on his decision to cover up the Bank of New Zealand (BNZ) logo but it is believed to relate to his Muslim beliefs.
The Blues team management reportedly were unaware he was going to tape over the logo on Saturday and a spokesman for the bank said Williams was “entitled to have religious beliefs.”
The player converted to Islam in 2009, a religion which frowns upon borrowing money or paying interest to banks.
A fit-again Williams, back in action for the first time since suffering an Achilles injury playing sevens at the Rio Olympics eight months ago, played the last 20 minutes for the Blues in their Super Rugby match against the Otago Highlanders.
The Highlanders won 26-20, but it was Williams’ decision to cover over the BNZ logo that caused a stir on social media rather than the result.
Andrew Condon tweeted: “Assume religious beliefs behind Sonny Bill Williams covering up financial services sponsorship from BNZ logos?”
A BNZ spokesman told news media it was a matter between Williams and the Blues.
“He’s entitled to have religious beliefs and customs around that and it’s really between him and the Blues as to how that manifests itself. So we have no issue with it,” the spokesman said.
Radio Newstalk ZB on Sunday quoted a Blues official as saying they were unclear why the logo was taped over and would discuss the issue with Williams’ manager.
However, the World Cup winning All Black made no reference to the bank in his after match tweet, in which he simply said: “Loved being back on the field tonight with my @BluesRugbyTeam brothers, congratulations @Highlanders 2 good tonight.”
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