By Mitch Phillips
LONDON (Reuters) - New Zealand center Sonny Bill Williams is famed for his off-loads but it was his medal rather than the ball he handed over on Saturday night to thrill a young fan after the 34-17 World Cup final victory over Australia.
Charlie Lines, 14, ran on to the pitch while the players were celebrating their victory but was felled by a security guard.
"I was walking around doing a lap of honor with the boys and a young fella came running out and he got smoked by the security guard, like full-on tackled him. It was pretty sad, he's just a young fella obviously caught up in the moment," said Williams, who had come on as a second-half replacement.
"If that was a younger brother or cousin I would have given the security guard a hiding. But I just picked the kid up and took him back to his old lady and tried to make the night more memorable for him.
"Better for it to be hanging around his neck than mine. I'm sure he'll remember it for a while. His mum was pretty happy. He had an All Blacks jersey on so he might be a future All Black."
However, Williams got to keep a winners' medal after all when he was presented with a replacement by All Blacks captain Ritchie Mccaw at the World Rugby Awards in London on Sunday.
"This is the last one though so don't lose it" said the event compeer.
(Editing by Sudipto Ganguly and Ken Ferris)