New Zealand dual international Sonny Bill Williams today officially announced that his future playing career is firmly focused on All Blacks rugby as he has put pen to paper signing a three-year deal that will see him remain in his homeland up to and including the 2019 Rugby World Cup.
While news broke during the week, today’s announcement has officially put to bed months of speculation regarding the location of where the sevens star will ply his trade following the Rio Olympics.
Post World Cup, it seemed likely that SBW would follow in the footsteps of fellow World Cup winners Conrad Smith and Ma’a Nonu and be enticed in a return to a Top 14 giant with a big money offer being put on the table, as former club and perennial big spenders Toulon were reportedly very keen in lauding the supremo back to the south of France to join their squad of galaticos.
The now financially adept NRL side Sydney Rabbitohs were also reported to have been willing to splash the cash in luring the rugby league convert back to his old club after having already made the switch back to league following a stint in Japan with the Panasonic Wild Knights in 2013.
Happy to have committed to the Nzru for the next 3 years, God willing its fruitful for all.
— Sonny Bill Williams (@SonnyBWilliams) May 31, 2016
However it seems that Williams’ mind regarding his playing future was made up much earlier than one would have thought following a phone call with All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen shortly after aiding his country to it’s second successive William Webb Ellis trophy: (source via espn.com.au)
“When you have probably the best coach ever from the 15-man game telling you that you are part of his plans moving forward, that really means a lot,” Williams said.
“Straight after that call, I pretty much got on to my manager and told him this is where I want to stay.”
Hansen is delighted to have what he has called a ‘freakish athlete’ commit his future to NZ rugby as he feels he is the best player in that position in the world:
“We saw that in the Rugby World Cup,” Hansen said.
“He made a difference every time he played and he allowed us to have a one-two-three punch.”
“I think by the time he is finished, he will be one of the greats of the game,” he said.
Sonny Bill’s new three-year contract is a turn away from the usual one-year contracts he has signed in the past which is a statement of intent illustrating his commitment to rugby union and All Blacks rugby.
The deal also see’s him join a very prestigious group of players including newly appointed All Blacks captain Kieran Read who will be pursuing a profound third successive World Cup title come Japan 2019.
Williams has stated that it was a difficult decision to turn his back on former side the Chiefs but with the birth of his daughter coupled with the fact that Williams is an Auckland native born and bred with many family ties to the city including his mother, that he and wife Alana viewed it as a desirable location to set up shop as they intend to have more kids:
“My wife doesn’t have any family here and most of my family is in Auckland,” he said.
“I’m an Auckland kid and it’s pretty much home to me. That weighed a lot in my decision, and there’s no secret me and Tana go way back.”
Read More About: 2019 Rugby World Cup, Auckland Blues, nrl, Panasonic Wild Knights, rugby union, rugby world cup, Sonny Bill Williams, south sydney rabbitohs, steve hansen, super rugby, Top 14, Toulon, Waikato Chiefs