SBW sought for Lions series

RICHARD KNOWLER
Last updated 05:00 14/10/2013
Sonny Bill Williams
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SONNY BILL: Can the NZRU secure his services for three full years from 2015?

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Would the British and Irish Lions tour be enough to coax Sonny Bill Williams into signing a three-year deal with the New Zealand Rugby Union?

One of the reasons Kieran Read and Sam Whitelock agreed to a four-year deal with the NZRU was because the Lions tour here in 2017.

Williams, who last week rejected the NZRU's advances so he could remain with the Roosters next year, is expected to return to the Chiefs in 2015 and the concept of adding a Lions series to his CV may hold some appeal.

It was understood the NZRU wanted Williams to sign a three-year contract before he opted to remain with rugby league.

If he agreed to the same terms in 12 months he could potentially play for the All Blacks at the 2015 World Cup, represent the sevens team at the Rio Olympics in 2016 and meet the Lions in 2017.

NZRU chief executive Steve Tew said they would have wait until they met Williams' manager Khoder Nasser for their next round of negotiations to know whether such a concept would appeal.

"In the discussions we have had so far his focus has been on the World Cup and possibility of playing at the Olympics," Tew said.

"Maybe it will next time we sit down with Khoder, but it's hard to say."

Williams will have just one Super Rugby season to break into the World Cup squad.

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen yesterday said he had no issue with the multi-faceted athlete staying with the Roosters before returning to the Chiefs in World Cup year.

"If someone plays really, really well and is good enough then we will pick them," Hansen said.

"And Sonny has shown us he is plenty good enough and if he gets back for 2015, or even earlier the ITM Cup in 2014, that would be great.

"I don't know (if he could play any ITM Cup) but I am just chucking it out there."

Tew also said he had no beef with Williams for declining the NZRU's offer.

"He wanted to get through the NRL season and see how the Roosters did before he made his decision. So, in fact, until he made it we weren't counting on anything happening.

"And, as proved to the case, he's a hard fellow to predict. We tried hard, we did our best and we wish him well."

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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