NZRU happy to wait for SBW playing decision
New Zealand rugby boss Steve Tew says he's got no complaints over the negotiating process with All Blacks superstar Sonny Bill Williams who has reportedly made the decision on his immediate sporting future.
An Australian rugby league television show on Sunday said Williams would be signing a one-year deal to return to the NRL and play with the Sydney Roosters, as had been previously speculated.
The show also reported that the 26-year-old, who had arguably his most impressive test performance in Saturday night's 60-0 thrashing of Ireland, had negotiated a release to play an abbreviated season in Japan and also to continue to pursue boxing opportunities.
Chiefs coach Dave Rennie told one radio station in New Zealand today that he now knows what the player's plans are beyond this season, but he could not reveal what they are.
In a conference call today, Tew, the NZRU chief executive, said he had a "pretty good idea" what Williams' plans were beyond the 2012 campaign.
"We've also got a commitment to him and the Chiefs about when that will be announced," added Tew.
"Like we do with every player, we respect their right to determine how and when they make announcements about their future."
But Tew did nothing to dampen speculation that Williams is set to take another sporting U-turn just when he is winning his greatest critical acclaim in the XV-man code. He was outstanding for the All Blacks on Saturday, scoring two tries and making what most pundits recognised as quality rugby decisions throughout.
"It would be a great loss to lose anyone who played in that team on Saturday night frankly," said Tew.
"He's obviously had a great season with the Chiefs, and has brought it on to the international field. I'm sure he'll be very pleased he's now considered by many to be playing rugby of a very high standard at the international level which was his goal. Whether he chooses to stay here and continue to do that is a matter for him.
"We've put our position on the table for Sonny Bill and [manager] Khoder [Nasser] has respected that. They've made whatever decision they've made in the full knowledge of what we could do and wanted to do. Unfortunately we're bound by his desire to announce that on a timeline that suits him, not us."
But Tew refused to label Williams as "too demanding" given the peripheral ambitions he has around boxing, and now apparently to take up what's reported to be a $1 million-plus offer from Panasonic in Japan to play a dozen matches between September and January.
"Our interaction with Sonny Bill and Khoder has been consistently robust and honest, and I've got absolutely no complaints," said Tew.
"If Sonny Bill Williams stays and plays rugby in New Zealand at this next decision juncture or he goes away, we will be very comfortable with the interaction we've had with him and his people -- and would welcome the opportunity to continue to talk to him whether he stays or goes.
"He has been one of the best people we've dealt with in that regard."
It would be frustrating if Williams does bolt now, just when he appears on the verge of taking his game to another level in rugby. His Chiefs are atop the New Zealand Super Rugby conference and he's played a big part in that. And he now appears to be at ease with his role in the All Black midfield, after starting all three tests against the Irish at second five-eighths.
But it would also be consistent with everything he's done throughout a career that has almost always been undertaken on his terms, and no one else's.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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