Sonny Bill set to confirm union return
September 1, 2013
Soony Bill Williams' time in union ended with a short spell in Japan with the Panasonic Wild Knights © Getty Images
Former All Blacks international Sonny Bill Williams is reportedly poised to confirm his return to rugby union and put pen to paper on a three-year deal with the Chiefs.
The World Cup winner is currently playing for the Sydney Roosters in Australia's National Rugby League but is out of contract at the end of the season and has repeatedly been linked with a move back to the 15-man code and Chiefs with whom he won the 2012 Super Rugby crown before returning to the code where he originally made his name.
The New Zealand Rugby Union has tabled an offer to Williams who is understood to be keen to reclaim his place in the All Blacks squad ahead of their defence of the World Cup in England in 2015. However, the Roosters are also keen to secure his services and have asked league chiefs for flexibility within the competition's salary cap in order for them accommodate Williams' contract.
However, it appears their efforts will be wasted with Williams understood to be closing in on a move back to New Zealand in time for next year's Super Rugby season. A source told The Sunday Mail: "The Chiefs are very confident of getting Sonny Bill. I expect Sonny Bill to be at the Chiefs (next year) and it will be announced the second the NRL season is over.
"The word out of the Sonny Bill camp is that he is getting bashed in rugby league, he feels he is getting targeted and can look after his body better in rugby union and prolong his career. The Chiefs are really close to getting the deal done. With the Roosters in the finals, Sonny Bill wants to keep things low-key until their season is over."
Williams, 28, is understood to want to continue his boxing career and believes union will take less of a toll on his body while he is also reportedly interested in challenging for a place in the New Zealand 7s squad for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.
Chiefs chairman Dallas Fisher confirmed their long-held interest in re-signing Williams but stressed he had yet to formally sign. "We are waiting for Sonny to give us an answer on what he wants to do, the ball is entirely in his court," he told Fox Sports.
"Our interest in Sonny is genuine and we are waiting to see how things pan out. We're not rushing him, we are waiting for him to get to a point where he will make a decision. He's very attractive to us. He is an outstanding athlete with an outstanding profile. He will forever be part of the Chiefs and we'd love to have him back."
However other sources suggest the deal is already done with Sky Sport NZ commentator Andrew Voss suggesting on Twitter that Williams is on his way back to Hamilton. "Whether it gets announced publicly I don't know but Sonny Bill Williams will sign with Chiefs this week," Voss tweeted.
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