Toulon tempt SBW with huge offer
April 17, 2011
Sonny Bill Williams has been in devastating form for the Crusaders in the early stages of this season's Super Rugby © Getty Images
All Blacks star Sonny Bill Williams is set to be offered a contract worth A$1.8 million (£1.1 million) a season to rejoin French Top 14 side Toulon, according to reports.
The Sydney Morning Herald reports that the player's agent, Khoder Nasser, is in advanced negotiations with the cash-rich French club, who announced the signing of London Irish flanker Steffon Armitage on Friday.
The 25-year-old is in hot demand with the NZRU desperate to extend his contract beyond its current December 2011 finish, and there are suggestions that a consortium, which is assembling a new Australian National Rugby League franchise in Brisbane from 2013, are eager to sign the New Zealand international.
French magazine Midi Olympique last week quoted Williams as saying: ''Toulon remains my preferred option [after the World Cup]." But he later downplayed the comments and insisted his future was very much undecided.
''I think that was taken out of context,'' Williams said of the quote in Midi Olympique. ''At this stage I'm loving where I'm at, but what they've taken out of context is that I loved my time at Toulon. 'It's definitely an option to go back there but I didn't say that. I've already stated that I'm keeping all of my options open.''
Along with the signing of Armitage and South African international Bakkies Botha, Toulon have already confirmed that Australian playmaker Matt Giteau will join the club following next season. And with fly-halves Jonny Wilkinson and Felipe Contepomi in residence and Welsh centre Gavin Henson fighting for a contract for next season, Toulon would seem to be spoilt for choice for the No.12 jersey.
Toulon owner Mourad Boudjellal had stated in February that his attempt to re-sign the centre, who made such an impact for Toulon last season, was over. But it would seem the pursuit of the player continues behind closed doors.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Proposals to remove promotion and relegation from the Aviva Premiership would be for the good of the game overall, argues John Taylor
Ireland have the world sitting up and taking notice - and rugby's structure in Europe will aid their Rugby World Cup bid, writes John Mitchell
Where does Italy's win over Scotland rank among their successes in the Six Nations? Scrum Sevens investigates
The tone was set early on in Dublin as a more clinical Ireland made England pay. All is not lost, however, argues Phil Vickery