New Zealand Rugby
Hansen: Sonny Bill could be back
ESPN Staff
August 5, 2012
Chiefs centre Sonny Bill Williams attempts to break a tackle, Chiefs v Sharks, Super Rugby Final, Waikato Stadium, Hamilton, New Zealand, August 4, 2012
Sonny Bill Williams scored a try in the Chiefs' Super Rugby victory over the Sharks on Saturday © Getty Images

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen believes that Sonny Bill Williams could one day return to rugby union in New Zealand.

The 27-year-old midfielder has agreed a deal to play in Japan before returning to the NRL, having bagged a try in the Chiefs' Super Rugby final victory over the Sharks on Saturday.

Williams could yet play some role in the All Blacks' opening Rugby Championship games following an injury to Conrad Smith, but Hansen thinks that beyond that there could be further reunions in the future.

"I think he'll come back. I think he's really enjoyed his time playing rugby and he's really enjoyed the Chiefs," Hansen said. "I'd be confident to say it's not the last time he'll play for the All Blacks either.

"He's a world class player now. If we didn't pick him, we'd be getting six lashes from the headmaster. He's done things that are different and sometimes in New Zealand we don't like people that are a little different.

"That's not to say he doesn't care about his country. We know he does and when I spoke to him about the opportunity [to play in the Rugby Championship], he couldn't answer quick enough with a yes."

Hansen defended Williams' decision to return to rugby league, having switched codes with Toulon four years ago. Since then he has won the Rugby World Cup and now a Super Rugby title.

"One or two people think he might be chasing money, but he's a professional sportsperson," Hansen said. "You only get a very short term in your playing career to make money. Doctors are doctors from the time they graduate to the time they die.

"It's not his fault that he's pretty good at boxing and people want to watch him do that. It's not his fault that he's good at league."

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