It was thought that Sonny Bill Williams would sign a new deal with the New Zealand Rugby Union.
When we first reported on the initial rumours suggesting that Sonny Bill Williams would join Toulon after Olympic sevens, the entire story had a sense of inevitability about it.
Not only do Toulon tend to get their man, but Williams had previously played for the French giants, leading some to argue that he had unfinished business with the side.
And @midi_olympique says the “coming months” could see the return to France of Sonny Bill with Toulon interested in welcoming him back
— gavin mortimer (@gavinmortimer7) December 11, 2015
Although Sonny Bill was subsequently linked with a move to the NRL, stories connecting him with a move to Toulon continued to be circulated in the French rugby media, with La Provence reporting that contract talks were at an advanced stage in March.
Later that month, they reported that a deal bringing the double World Cup centre to the Stade Mayol was as good as done, with his arrival date the final stumbling block in negotiations.
The following week, Var Martin claimed negotiations had been concluded, and that an announcement was close. Those claims were substantiated when Midi Olympique reported a confirmation was imminent in early April.
— Valeurs Du Rugby ®©™ (@ValeursDuRugby) April 3, 2016
However since then the French media have largely been silent, with reports emanating from New Zealand suggesting that Sonny Bill was going to sign a new deal from the New Zealand Rugby Union, after being offered a position within the All Black leadership group.
Indeed, kiwi news site, Stuff, even suggested that the NZRU would allow Williams return to boxing as part of a new agreement.
After The New Zealand Herald reported that both the Blues and Chiefs were battling it out to secure the centre’s signature, it seemed any deal bringing Williams to Toulon was dead.
It therefore appeared that the momentum was on the side of the NZRU in the race for Williams’ signature. Indeed, they would have been given a boost this morning when Mourad Boudjellal appeared to admit defeat in his pursuit of the player in La Provence.
We made an offer, but there was no answer. When this is so, in general, it is not good sign. Anyway, I know we are not alone in having made a proposal.
While kiwi rugby chiefs maybe tempted to open bottles of champagne in celebration, the same article claims that both Racing 92 and Montpellier have since entered the race to sign Williams.
Although Montpellier might not be a likely destination for the centre, the prospect of linking up with Dan Carter could prove tempting for Sonny Bill.
Alan Drumm, Pundit Arena
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