Sayonara Sonny Bill - Williams heads to Japan

Mike Kilpatrick, Yahoo! New Zealand Sport July 9, 2012, 11:54 am
Sayonara Sonny Bill - Williams heads to Japan

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The worst kept secret in sport has been confirmed - Sonny Bill Williams has ditched the All Blacks to take up a lucractive contract in Japan.

Williams, who burst onto the New Zealand domestic scene in 2010 before winning a World Cup winners medal with the All Blacks last year, has also been heavily linked with a return to the NRL since he first signed with the NZRU.

And at a media conference today 26-year-old Williams, flanked by mentor Wayne Smith and All Blacks' assistant coach Ian Foster, denied he has already signed with Roosters but says it is his intention to play in the NRL next year.

However after his short stint with the Panasonic club in Japan Williams, who walked away from the Bulldogs in 2008, is almost certain to play with the Sydney club.

He is expected to earn over $1.7 million for 12 games in Japan and could earn more than $600,000 with the Roosters - but with his boxing career also taking off it has the potential to rise even further.

The move to Japan - which came about because of a handshake agreement some time ago - rules Sonny Bill out of the forthcoming Rugby Championship - and leaves All Blacks coach Steve Hansen with a midfield issue.

Williams was the first choice during the three-Test series against the Irish with Ma'a Nonu struggling for form for the Blues.

He impressed during the series and would almost certainly have been one of the first names on the team-sheet come the test matches against Australia, South Africa and Argentina.

It is not known whether Sonny Bill will follow another code switcher - Brad Thorn - and return to New Zealand rugby once his Roosters contract has finished.

Williams wouldn't rule that out saying he had loved his time in New Zealand, especially with the Chiefs, but acknowledged there were a number of good players coming through.

But there will be one man smiling at the prospect of Sonny Bill's possible NRL return - Kiwis' coach Stephen Kearney is likely to have one of sport's biggest names available to him for a couple of years.

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  1. 12:24pm Wednesday 11th July 2012 NZSTReport Abuse

    Take care SBW. God has given you the skills, so use them while you are still young.Life is too short , kia kaha.Its your life,not anyone esles.

  2. Little06:40am Wednesday 11th July 2012 NZSTReport Abuse

    SBW needs to get rid of his manager, thats where most of his buxs are going, and also why not follow the buxs, Its sad his leaving, but money talks. good luck SBW

  3. Botfly01:31am Wednesday 11th July 2012 NZSTReport Abuse

    Poser! Good luck.

  4. Jennifer10:43pm Tuesday 10th July 2012 NZSTReport Abuse

    yeah I would gap it for the bucks too....hahaha and anyway SBW probably spend his lil furtune back here in NZ anyway so who cares geessshhh....30+% tax yipppeeeeee us kiwis LOVE paying TAX hahahaha

  5. Raychel07:40pm Tuesday 10th July 2012 NZSTReport Abuse

    Good for you Sonny-Boy. We've enjoyed having you for the short time we have and don't worry about all the haters and jellie-babies. Take care of you and make the most of opportunities given you. Looking forward to your return to (hopefully) The Chiefs in 2014? Take care & kia kaha ki a koe!

  6. Julia05:59pm Tuesday 10th July 2012 NZSTReport Abuse

    SBW,has spent more time on the news headlines than on the rugby field, sadly its not all been good news. He has always struck me as an unreliable attention just dosent stop. Where are the NEW kids comming forward, to take his place. THANKFULLY

  7. Colleen02:32pm Tuesday 10th July 2012 NZSTReport Abuse

    Good luck SBW,get the dollars while you a young enough. As for Steve Hanson and co.we have plenty of talented player in NZ, no need for making people think there is a problem

  8. Josh01:52pm Tuesday 10th July 2012 NZSTReport Abuse

    Does this guy ever finish anything he starts? League, rugby, league, rugby, boxing, rugby, league... What next? Soccer? Yes he'll make lots of money (and that is what sport is all about these days) but he'll never be remembered for much except code switching every 5 minutes.

  9. Johnny Shamrock01:50pm Tuesday 10th July 2012 NZSTReport Abuse

    Plenty of talent. no Mana

  10. Rua01:49pm Tuesday 10th July 2012 NZSTReport Abuse

    NZers suffer Coutts syndrome with SBW? Ohhh tsk, tsk


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