Sonny Bill William's future a closely guarded secret

EVAN PEGDEN
Last updated 05:00 26/06/2012
Sonny Bill Williams
BRUCE MERCER
THE FLICK: Sony Bill Williams offloads in the tackle.

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Chiefs coach Dave Rennie knows what and where Sonny Bill Williams is going to play next year, New Zealand Rugby Union boss Steve Tew knows and probably some of Williams' team-mates know.

But no-one is saying, just yet, what his plans are for his immediate sporting future beyond the current Super Rugby season.

Speculation continues across the Tasman that Williams has signed with the Sydney Roosters for a one-year return to rugby league's NRL and before that an abbreviated 12-match rugby stint with Panasonic in Japan reportedly worth more than $1 million.

Then there are plans for further boxing bouts.

If the Japan move happens from September to January, as speculated, then it would seem feasible that Williams has played his last game for the All Blacks with the Rugby Championship starting in August and running through to the first week of October.

But the NZRU is bound by an agreement to allow Williams and his Sydney-based manager, Khoder Nasser, to reveal the plans in their own time.

Williams was giving nothing away yesterday at Chiefs training but said he hoped his decision would be revealed soon.

"Hopefully, when the time's right," Williams said. "But as long as my coaches and my fellow team-mates are happy with how I'm doing, how I'm putting in, then I'm happy."

Rennie said he was in the know but not at liberty to say. He has three more Super Rugby round-robin games and the playoffs in which to extract everything he can from the big second five-eighth as the competition-leading Chiefs try to win their first Super Rugby title.

Tew said he had a "pretty good idea" what Williams' plans were beyond the 2012 campaign.

"We've also given a commitment to him and the Chiefs about when that will be announced," Tew said.

It will be hard for Williams to walk away from a Chiefs environment that he has thrived in, but he has always made his sporting career decisions on his own terms.

It has taken three years in rugby union to come fully to grips with the game, but it can be said now that he is certainly on top of it and this year has played some outstanding rugby for both the Chiefs and the All Blacks, thriving on getting to play all three tests against the Irish as starting No12.

"A lot of people last year said that I didn't have what it took to make it as an All Black but I always said 'just give me a bit of game time and then we'll see how I go'," Williams said.

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"It's been pleasing [in the recent series] to know that I can compete at that level."

He said his "game understanding" in rugby union had come a long way from all the work he had done at training, from the coaching he had received and playing alongside top players.

"I think that's what's made me more comfortable. I'm pleased with how I'm going."

Williams said many people did not seem to understand just how different the two football codes of rugby union and league were.

"Just because they're played on the same pitch people seem to think the games aren't too different but they're totally different games and you only have to ask Brad Thorn about that."

Williams said it was "awesome" being part of the way the All Blacks had bounced back from a disappointing second-test performance at Waikato Stadium on Saturday night, but the biggest thing for him had been being able to play alongside several Chiefs players in the third test.

"There were so many of us on the field, all the boys stood up and it was just good to be a part of it," Williams said.

For now, his concentration is totally back on the Chiefs' bid to get to the Super Rugby final and win it.

"Obviously we want to finish top of the table and get that home semifinal but that's a few weeks away yet and there's a lot of hard work that needs to be done.

"So as long as we're staying in the now and doing what we're doing, concentrating on our day-to-day efforts, doing our homework on opposition and then come off the field knowing we've played as hard as we can, then that's all you can do really.

"I'm so proud of how the boys have gone this year but I know that we want to take it up another level that will hopefully ultimately win this thing."

- Waikato

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