New Zealand Rugby
Williams: I'll be my own man
ESPNscrum Staff
January 16, 2011
Sonny Bill Williams loses the ball under pressure, Scotland v New Zealand, Murrayfield, Edinburgh, Scotland, November 13, 2010
Sonny Bill Williams caught the eye during New Zealand's Grand Slam winning end of season tour of Britain and Ireland © Getty Images

All Blacks star Sonny Bill Williams is intent on pursuing his personal career goals and insists he will not be sidetracked by media criticism or speculation.

The Canterbury centre, who made a big impact during New Zealand's Grand Slam winning tour of Britain and Ireland in November, has come under pressure for his decision to rekindle his professional boxing career prior to the new Super Rugby season.

Williams has fought twice before and will go toe to toe with Australian Scott Lewis on January 29, just a few weeks before the start of the Super Rugby season when he will line-up for the Crusaders.

His decision to take on the fight amidst much criticism in the press is just one of a number of choices facing the 25-year-old in the next year with clubs lining up to make lucrative offers for his services after the World Cup. His former team Toulon, whom Williams left to sign a deal with the New Zealand Rugby Union, are reportedly interested in re-singing him while he has also been linked with a move back to rugby league with Russell Crowe's South Sydney.

But Williams insists that he has learned a huge amount from a number of controversies in his early career and he will not be influenced into any rash decisions.

"I think I'm evolving, I'm always in search of bettering myself, how I can improve as a sportsman and as a person,'' he told the Sydney Morning Herald. ''I am my own man now, I can think for myself, whereas when I was 20, 21, I always wanted to please others. I do speak my mind a lot more than when I was younger.

"I guess that's just my Polynesian background. That's how we are, just sit back and try and fit in, try and make everyone else happy. Now I know a lot of things in the big man's world are not what they seem, a lot of people are out for themselves and you can't always trust what someone says.''

The boxing rugby player has been involved in his fair share of controversies throughout his career, including a contentious move from Canterbury Bulldogs in 2008 and a drink driving conviction. But he insists his decision to give up drinking has transformed his outlook.

''The first thing I cut down was no drinking, then from no drinking you cut down being out late, you're up early in the morning,'' he said. ''You get those looks from the boys like, 'What are you doing?' but they're the first ones to come up and say, 'You had a great game.'

''Now I don't have a phone … I do a bit of reading, I love autobiographies. The best book, I'll recommend it to anybody, is Malcolm X's biography, there are a lot of life traits in there. I've read it about four times.''

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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