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Sonny Bill Williams seals All Blacks future

Sonny Bill Williams seals All Blacks future

Sonny Bill Williams has done just about everything. Two Rugby World Cup wins, two NRL titles, a Ranfurly Shield, a Bledisloe Cup, a Super Rugby title with the Chiefs, a New Zealand heavyweight boxing strap thrown in for good measure and a potential tilt at Olympic sevens glory this summer.

"He will be one of the greats of the game." 

Sonny Bill Williams has done just about everything. Two Rugby World Cup wins, two NRL titles, a Ranfurly Shield, a Bledisloe Cup, a Super Rugby title with the Chiefs, a New Zealand heavyweight boxing strap thrown in for good measure and a potential tilt at Olympic sevens glory this summer.

But Sonny Bill is now set to fill the one glaring omission on his otherwise dazzling CV – a British & Irish Lions Test series.

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Williams has put pen to paper on a three-year deal with the New Zealand Rugby Union, signing for Auckland Super Rugby franchise the Blues.

A young daughter and Auckland-based family, along with the potent desire to link up with former mentor and All Blacks captain Tana Umaga – who is now the Blues’ Head Coach – were foremost in his reasons for not returning to former franchise the Chiefs after his Olympic sojourn.  

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


But Williams also alluded to the Lions campaign in New Zealand when explaining his reasoning for sticking with the All Blacks, despite rumours of lucrative offers from Europe, Japan and the NRL.

"The coach gave me a call after the World Cup and said how exciting things were looking ahead for the All Blacks. He told me I was a big part of his plans,” the 33-times-capped centre explained.

“When you hear the best coach every in the 15-man game tell you are part of his plans, it means a lot. Straight after the call I got in touch with my manager and said this is where I want to stay.

"My wife doesn't have any family here and most of my family are in Auckland. That weighed a lot on my decision. And it's no secret me and Tana go way back."

"I am an Auckland boy and feel like I am coming home.

"I had a couple of really great years down there [at the Chiefs]. It was a really hard decision to turn my back on them, especially the opportunity to play outside Aaron Cruden and with guys like Sammy Cane."

With Cruden and Cane both in the All Blacks squad for their June Test-series with Wales, Williams will surely reignite the electric partnership with Cruden that proved so lethal with the Chiefs down the line for the All Blacks. 

'Freakish Athlete'

Former New Zealand captain Umaga started all three Tests against the Lions in 2005 and following the international retirement of Conrad Smith and Ma’a Nonu, Williams will surely have his eye on emulating the coach who first brought him to the 15-a-side game with Toulon in 2008.

And the coach who Williams described as the world’s best coach, Steve Hansen, reciprocated with similarly lavish praise – no doubt licking his lips at having a player of Sonny Bill’s abundant ability available to tackle the Lions.

"I think it's a great decision," Hansen said.

"To have a player of Sonny's ability, he's a freakish athlete and is one of the best if not the best in the world in his position. We saw at the World Cup he made a difference every time he played.

"He now has a really big role for us coming on board for three years to develop other people around him. When he finishes, he will be one of the greats of the game. He's got plenty of rugby left in him."

Despite his ram-packed trophy cabinet, if Williams is to fulfil that prophecy, a Lions tour must be firmly in his crosshairs.  
 

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