New Zealand
Hansen wants Sonny Bill Williams to box clever
ESPN Staff
November 24, 2014
Wales 16-34 New Zealand (Australia only)

Sonny Bill Williams has been cleared to return to the boxing ring, with the dual international likely to fight again over the off-season, probably in late January, before he begins his Super Rugby campaign with the Chiefs.

Former New Zealand heavyweight champion Williams hasn't fought since beating South African Francois Botha in Brisbane nearly two years ago, when he claimed his sixth win from six bouts, but his manager, Khoder Nasser, included a clause to box in Williams' contract when the player re-signed with the Chiefs and NZ Rugby this year.

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen gave Williams his blessing, noting that more top sportsmen are entering the ring for its wider benefits.

"He's a guy who finds boxing is good for his fitness and the Chiefs are happy for him to do it," Hansen said. "My only words of wisdom to him will be: 'Don't find anyone who can beat you'. Khoder's pretty sharp, he's not going to put him in against someone who's going to knock him around."

Williams started three of New Zealand's four Tests on tour, and played off the bench against Scotland, exceeding expectations with his imposing form after two seasons in rugby league. But he blotted his copybook in the 34-16 win over Wales, routinely losing the ball in possession as he was outplayed by Dragons counterpart Jamie Roberts. He was replaced before the All Blacks launched their late heroics.

Williams' rapid return was fast-tracked when veteran No.12 Ma'a Nonu broke his left arm midway through the Test season, and the duel between the pair for a starting spot next year should be one of the highlights of 2015.


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