Is Sonny Bill on his way back?
June 29, 2013
The Chiefs are in talks with Sonny Bill Williams over a possible return © PA Photos
Sonny Bill Williams could make a surprise return to rugby union ahead of the 2014 Super Rugby season.
The dual code international, who starred in the All Blacks' 2011 Rugby World Cup triumph, is currently playing for the Sydney Roosters in Australia's National Rugby League competition having returned to the 13-man code where he made his name earlier this year.
But reports suggest he is ready to make swift return to union in the hope of claiming a place in New Zealand's plans for their defence of the World Cup in 2015 with the Chiefs, who he helped to win the Super Rugby title in 2012, confident of re-signing the 27-year-old. "At this stage we haven't filled up our midfield roster so if he was available we'd certainly jump at that opportunity," coach Dave Rennie told the New Zealand Herald.
Chiefs management met with Williams in April when they were in Sydney for their Super Rugby clash with the Waratahs and were encouraged by their dialogue. "We spent quite a bit of time with him," said Rennie. "It was Test week and the Roosters weren't playing. He's been in bloody good nick and in good spirits. He enjoys the boys, he spent a lot of time around the hotel and so on, so it was good to catch up with him from that point of view."
Rennie also took heart from the feedback he received from Williams' manager Khoder Nasser. "One thing with Khoder is that I really enjoy working with him because he is straight up. If he says something is going to happen then it happens and I find those sorts of people bloody good to deal with. He was outstanding to work with last year.
"I know people paint a picture of him being difficult but he's doing his best for his client, I guess. We found him really easy to work with. He's not greedy and he's not difficult in any way."
With Waratahs and Australia star Israel Folau also reportedly close to penning a long-term deal to remain in union, SANZAR, the organisers of Super Rugby, are excited by the prospect of two of the game's biggest draws gracing the competition next year.
SANZAR boss Greg Peters told the Australian Sunday Telegraph a match-up between the pair would be huge. "It would be an exciting prospect if Sonny Bill returns to rugby and Israel Folau stays in the game. It would be a match-up that we would consider placing in the priority part of our season," Peters said. "The broadcasters do like a strong start to the season."