Former New Zealand and Canterbury Bulldogs rugby league representative Sonny Bill Williams has signed a contract with the New Zealand Rugby Football Union in a bid to play for the All Blacks at next year’s Rugby World Cup.
Williams, who controversially walked out on the Bulldogs mid season in 2008 to play rugby for the Toulon , turned his back on a multi-million contract from the French club side to realise his boyhood dream of becoming an All Black.
“My first decision has been to commit to New Zealand and I’ve done that today. The next step will be to decide on a province and I’ll decide that closer to my return to New Zealand early next month,” Williams said.
“I’m coming home to pursue my childhood dream and work towards earning an All Blacks jersey. The first priority after choosing a province will be to focus on settling into New Zealand rugby and preparations for the ITM Cup.”
Williams will reportedly receive $550,000 a year to play in New Zealand, with marketing and image rights providing a sizeable top-up.
Williams high profile and athleticism could make him the next Jonah Lomu – if he plays well enough to make the All Blacks.
Current All Blacks Dan Carter, Brad Thorn, Cory Jane and Conrad Smith all yesterday spoke with enthusiasm at the prospect of Williams playing in New Zealand.
All believe he has the athleticism and talent to push on from his encouraging development with Toulon.
The plan will be for him to fit into the New Zealand scene with Counties-Manukau and then go on the All Blacks year-ending tour north.
That tour involves a Hong Kong Bledisloe Cup test against the Wallabies and a grand slam attempt against England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales.