It has this morning been reported by the nzherald.co.nz that Sonny Bill Williams is poised to sign a new three year All Blacks contract that will see him with the Kiwi’s through to the 2019 Rugby World Cup.
With uncertainty and speculation having arisen regarding the future of the rugby league convert’s future, as many lucrative offers were on the table with interest incoming from a number of sources including a return to the NRL as well as a big money move to former club Toulon, it would now appear that Williams has prioritised reaching a third World Cup and cementing his legacy within the All Blacks jersey as his sole focus.
Williams recent promotion to the All Blacks’ leadership group has made it clear to the World Cup winner that he is central to Steve Hansen’s plans moving forward.
While previously having only signed on for one-year contracts, this is a real statement of intent as the thirty-three timed capped, multiple World Cup winner has not been a regular starter within the New Zealand squad.
However with the international retirement of Ma’a Nonu, SBW is now poised to take ownership of the 13 jersey as he strives to achieve a personal goal of reaching fifty test caps thus establishing his name amongst New Zealand rugby royalty.
By signing on for this contact extension Sonny Bill has made himself eligible to become a beneficiary of the new broadcast deal which will see all senior players receive a huge pay increase due to the 100 percent pay increase in TV income as well as being allowed to continue his professional boxing career.
With an official announcement set to come this Wednesday, the centre’s Super Rugby future is unclear with interests heavily split between loyalties to former side Waikoto Chiefs and his close bond and friendship with Auckland Blues head coach Tana Umaga. It is understood that he will make his decision at the latest stage of contract negotiations as possible.
This announcement will come as welcome news to New Zealand head coach Steve Hansen who has dismissed suggestions that the All Blacks are in a four year ‘rebuilding’ stage with the retirements of so many stalwarts within the squad including Dan Carter, Conrad Smith and former captain Richie McKaw.
Hansen has reiterated that he and the squad are looking to push on, grow and reach higher levels following there second succesive World Cup triumph (foxsports.com.au) :
“Our mindset is not one of rebuilding but re-establishing, moving to a higher level,” he said.
“That’s our challenge. Taking this team to a higher level than where we left off at the Rugby World Cup.
“So we’ll put a full stop on 2015. It’s a new start from the point of view that we must go to a higher level.”
Williams’ signature will surely come as a great aid in Hansen’s plans to reach the aforementioned ‘higher levels’.
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