Many predicted Sonny Bill Williams to feature heavily among the memorable moments of the Rugby League World Cup, but this surely wasn’t what they had in mind.
The Kiwi superstar, the tournament’s star attraction, was left red faced after producing one of the biggest howlers in recent rugby league memory in New Zealand’s 42-24 victory over Samoa on Sunday.
The dual international, in his first game for the Kiwis since the Anzac Test of 2008 after defecting to union, looked set to cap a solid performance with a try with 12 minutes to play.
It started with a brilliant run which left defenders sprawled all over the field.
He crossed the line totally free of pressure, before inexplicably running deep into the narrow in-goal before slipping and putting a foot into touch before he could ground the ball.
Williams’ look of embarrassment told the story before the try was officially disallowed by the video referee.
“Embarrassed to not score, but nothing wrong with a lil humble pie,” Williams tweeted shortly after the contest.
The ruling was met with jeers from the near-14,000 fans packed into Warrington’s Halliwell Jones Stadium who had been baying support for a spirited Samoa side.
Given it had little bearing on the result, it even attracted a laugh from coach Stephen Kearney.
“He might want to check his boots next time,” joked Kearney.
“It was a good indication of that period of the game.”
Williams had been strong throughout the match defensively, while two of his trademark offloads led to tries.
His howler provided further entertainment in an already-thrilling Group B match that also featured a hat-trick to Warriors winger Manu Vatuvei.