Sonny Bill Williams is to return to rugby union, confirming on Thursday a two-year deal with the NZRU and the Chiefs franchise.
Sonny Bill Williams is to return to New Zealand rugby, confirming on Thursday a two-year deal with the NZRU and the Chiefs franchise.
The deal for 2015-2016 will see 28-year-old Williams again play for the Chiefs in the Super Rugby competition and push again for All Blacks honours.
Williams previously played for Canterbury in the ITM Cup, the Crusaders and Chiefs Super Rugby teams and the All Blacks from 2010 to 2012.
Williams will return to New Zealand once he has completed his NRL commitments next year.
“Sonny showed in his two years with New Zealand rugby that he is an outstanding talent and was a real asset to our game. We are delighted to have agreed terms which will see him return to rugby in 2015,” said New Zealand Rugby CEO Steve Tew.
“We're rapt,” added Chiefs coach Dave Rennie.
“We made no secret that we were keen to get Sonny back in a Chiefs jersey. He's not only a quality player but adds huge value to our environment off the field.”
Tew said while the Chiefs will be the primary focus when he returns, Williams had also been open about his desire to push for a spot in the All Blacks Rugby World Cup squad in 2015 and to make himself available for selection in the All Blacks Sevens team as they push towards the Rio Olympics in 2016.
“We think it is great that he has made his aspirations clear and if he plays well enough to be considered for selection for those teams, then that is fantastic,” added Tew.
Sonny Bill Williams played 19 Tests for the All Blacks and more than 30 Super Rugby matches for the Chiefs and Crusaders from 2010-2012. He first played for Canterbury in the ITM Cup and with his size, strength and trademark offloads he made an immediate impact, became a fan favourite, and was picked for the All Blacks on the 2010 end of year tour, playing in four Tests.
He played for the Crusaders in the 2011 Investec Super Rugby season and his impressive form saw him selected again for the All Blacks Tri Nations side and Rugby World Cup-winning squad. He made the switch to the Chiefs in 2012 helping them win the Investec Super Rugby competition. He played five more Tests for the All Blacks before heading to Japan and then back to rugby league in Australia.