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Islam Gave Me Happiness: NZ Rugby Star
"I wouldn't be half the man I am today without my faith," New Zealand's Sonny Bill Williams said in a BBC video.
Four years in union, including a World Cup win, six professional victories as a boxer, William’s conversion to Islam have seen him return to league a new man.
“I think I’ve become a better person. When I play, I play well,” Williams said.
“I get a lot of love, a lot of respect,” he added.
New Zealand is looking to retain the title they won in 2008, with Williams seeking to become the first player to win a World Cup in both codes of the game.
Born in 1985, Williams a top-notch rugby star in New Zealand.
He reverted to Islam in 2008 after attending prayer services at a Sydney mosque.
The superstar is the first Muslim to play for the All Blacks rugby team.
Williams’ younger sister Niall Williams is a New Zealand international touch football player, and won gold at the Youth World Cup in 2005 and silver at the 2011 Touch Football World Cup.
“Islam has given me happiness. I don’t go around preaching or anything. It is like something that’s just with me,” Williams said in another video posted on YouTube last September.
“What it has done for me on my inside I can’t really explain. But obviously it’s helped with my footy, cause I don’t drink or anything like that anymore and I try to live a lot cleaner lifestyle and things like that, but essentially it’s just made me a lot happier.”
Turning from league’s most hated player, New Zealand coach Stephen Kearney said that international rugby league fans will see a new player.
“He's been fantastic. He's been really good," Kearney said of the 28-year-old, who won the NRL with the Sydney Roosters earlier this month, told 3News website on Sunday, October 27.
"He's light years away from where he has. He was always a special talent but he's five years on, wiser and more mature. He's different.
"He has got to know himself. He's measured himself, he's grown and is a man now. We all need time to do that. At the time he was a 22-year-old, a big fish in the pond and some of us don't handle that."
The south-pacific island country of New Zealand is home to 36,000 Muslims, according to the 2006 census.
Source: On Islam