Sonny Bill Williams not returning to rugby in 2014
The story continues. Just days after his belated backflip to play for the Kiwis in the rugby league World Cup, Sonny Bill Williams has changed his mind over a return to rugby in 2014.
The New Zealand Rugby Union today confirmed that Williams had told it and the Chiefs he will not be returning to rugby in New Zealand next year.
He will instead return to the NRL-winning Sydney Roosters.
It is understood Williams, 28, had given a strong indication to the Chiefs that he would play for them next season as he looked to re-establish himself in the New Zealand game before the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
Williams' controversial post-deadline decision to play for the Kiwis at the upcoming rugby league World Cup indicated a change of heart over his preferred code for next year.
The Roosters said Williams had "pledged his commitment" for the 2014 season.
"The club anticipates that Williams will officially sign in mid-February for the remainder of the season on the same terms and conditions as his 2013 contract," they said.
Williams last Sunday won with the Roosters the second NRL title of his career - an event that may well have caused his dramatic change of heart.
Earlier today, All Blacks coach Steve Hansen indicated he was not banking on seeing Williams back for 2014.
"We're comfortable he'll come back to rugby at some point," he told LiveSport.
"He's had a pretty emotional time and a lot of people are trying to push his buttons.
"We're pretty comfortable we'll get him at some point as he wants to play at the next World Cup."
NZRU professional rugby general manager Neil Sorensen said the union was disappointed not to have secured Williams for next year.
"We obviously worked pretty hard to bring Sonny home, and we have had some really good conversations with him," he said.
"This is disappointing, but we know we put our best foot forward, and in the end Sonny has made his decision.
"As we do with many players who leave New Zealand, we will continue to keep the lines of communication open with him about his playing career."
Chiefs coach Dave Rennie said: "While we are disappointed that Sonny won't be with us in 2014 now, we'll be keen to keep talking to him about future options."
Chiefs and NZRU representatives went to Sydney in a last-ditch attempt to change Williams' mind. Clearly they were not able to achieve that.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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