Sonny Bill Williams could sign for Counties Manukau when he rejoins the Chiefs next season.
The move would see him team up with his great friend and mentor Tana Umaga, the two having previously been together at Toulon.
The Steelers have been the success story of New Zealand provincial rugby since Umaga became the team's coach and on Friday they will play Southland for their third defence of the Ranfurly Shield.
Because Williams is expected to make it straight back into the All Blacks when he returns to rugby, his time playing in provincial colours could be limited.
However, Counties would be able to use Williams for 20 hours of promotional activities per season and his fondness for Umaga could sway him towards playing a game for the Steelers when he doesn't need to.
"No matter where he goes he'll be an asset and we'd love to have him," Umaga said.
"You have just got to see what he's done for the Roosters, it's not just what he brings with his abilities and skills on the field, it's also his presence off it.
"He is the consummate professional, if you talk to the Chiefs boys, he drove the professionalism in training and his work ethic.
"He doesn't say much, he just does it. That's something we're trying to drive too, be professional in everything we do.
"He can be one of the biggest assets for anyone commercially, but you wouldn't think that when you talked to him, he's a very humble person and he likes to be just one of the guys.
"He would be a good leader amongst all of our Polynesian boys too, they look up and they're fans of him, I'm still a fan more than anything. But getting to know him personally, I'm a fan of him as a person, too."
Umaga was the man who helped Williams initially make the switch from league to rugby when he walked out on the Bulldogs in 2008, and while it took him a while to adjust that time, he doesn't expect him to take long to make the jump again.
"I think there will be a transition of a week," Umaga laughed.
"It won't take him long and he's that kind of guy. He's not a person that does things lightly, he'll make sure he does his work and he'll know what he needs to work on.
"It has only been a year away from the game and, if anything, we take a lot of things out of rugby league, and I'm sure he'll bring back the positives he's been able to find when he comes back."
Meanwhile, Umaga said he's looking forward to seeing how his younger players handle today's game against Canterbury.
"Obviously, it's not going to be easy going to Canterbury so we'll see how they do against a top side," he said.With a spot in the Premiership semifinals assured, Umaga has rested nearly all of his best players and selected a B team.
"It is a positive to test the depth of this union, our boys have worked hard to do something and from our last hit out we looked fatigued, so we can freshen up a bit."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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