New Zealand

NZRU happy to 'wait' for Sonny Bill

Mon, 25 Jun 2012 13:26
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We respect their right to determine how and when they make announcements about their Future

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Sonny Bill Williams has made up his mind about what the future holds for him. Only he is not telling anybody.

New Zealand Rugby Union Chief Executive Steve Tew on Monday confirmed that they are happy to play the waiting game with the Chiefs and All Black midfielder.

According to Tew, Williams has made the decision on his immediate sporting future.

However, he will announce his plans for 2013 only in about a fortnight.

Chiefs coach Dave Rennie told One News radio station in New Zealand that he now knows what the player's plans are beyond this season, but he could not reveal what they are.

In a conference call on Monday Tew said he had a "pretty good idea" what Williams' plans were beyond the 2012 campaign.

"We've also got a commitment to him and the Chiefs about when that will be announced," added Tew.

"Like we do with every player, we respect their right to determine how and when they make announcements about their future."

An Australian Rugby League television show on Sunday said Williams would be signing a one-year deal to return to the NRL and play with the Sydney Roosters, as had been previously speculated.

And 3 News in New Zealand reported that the time frame - set out by Williams’ manager Khoder Nasser - will see the announcement made after the final State of Origin series decider which dominates sportswires and news in Australia.

It was also reported that the 26-year-old, who had arguably his most impressive Test performance in the 60-0 thrashing of Ireland at the weekend, had negotiated a release to play an abbreviated season in Japan and also to continue to pursue boxing opportunities.

Tew did nothing to dampen speculation that Williams is set to take another sporting U-turn just when he is winning his greatest critical acclaim in the 15-man code.

"It would be a great loss to lose anyone who played in that team on Saturday frankly," said Tew.

"He's obviously had a great season with the Chiefs, and has brought it on to the international field. I'm sure he'll be very pleased he's now considered by many to be playing rugby of a very high standard at the international level which was his goal. Whether he chooses to stay here and continue to do that is a matter for him.

"We've put our position on the table for Sonny Bill and [manager] Khoder [Nasser] has respected that. They've made whatever decision they've made in the full knowledge of what we could do and wanted to do. Unfortunately we're bound by his desire to announce that on a timeline that suits him, not us."

But Tew refused to label Williams as "too demanding" given the peripheral ambitions he has around boxing, and now apparently to take up what's reported to be a NZ$1 million-plus offer from Japan to play a dozen matches between September and January.

"Our interaction with Sonny Bill and Khoder has been consistently robust and honest, and I've got absolutely no complaints," said Tew.

"If Sonny Bill Williams stays and plays rugby in New Zealand at this next decision juncture or he goes away, we will be very comfortable with the interaction we've had with him and his people - and would welcome the opportunity to continue to talk to him whether he stays or goes.

"He has been one of the best people we've dealt with in that regard."

Australian broadcaster and former Kangaroo Matthew Johns has previously stated his belief Williams will play in the NRL for the Sydney Roosters next year, and he reiterated that on Monday.

Johns explained on Triple M that Williams was set for a sojourn to Japan, before switching codes for the second time and turning out for the Roosters.

"That was put on hold with the Japanese rugby offer,'' Johns said.

"We can reveal now that by all reports we're hearing, the deal is all but done ... they believe that most certainly Sonny Bill Williams will be at the Roosters next year.

"But is it worth it? He's going to play 12 games in Japan. Through his time at the Roosters he'll go to South Africa to do one boxing match.

"And he'll only sign a one-year deal, so after 12 months of all that, you'll have to go through it again.''

Sources: Fairfax NZ, 3 News & APNZ

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