Williams: A 'privilege' to play in Japan
Williams: A 'privilege' to play in JapanSHARE
All Black star Sonny Bill Williams has spoken of the "privilege" of joining Japanese rugby union outfit Panasonic Wild Knights as he prepares to make his debut in the country's Top League.
The World Cup winner was an onlooker as his new club romped to a 44-13 win over the Ricoh Black Rams in their league opener on Saturday but is expected to play next week against NTT Communications Shining Arcs.
"I think it's a privilege. It's great to come to a team in Japan. I'm just looking to enhance the team," Williams said. "For me, my focus here is to just play well for Panasonic."
Williams, who helped Waikato Chiefs win the Super rugby title last month, said: "For me, I just want to play well, representing Panasonic well, play some good footie."
The centre was part of the All Blacks line-up that crushed Australia 22-0 last month but their policy of only selecting players who ply their trade in New Zealand will likely put an end to his international career, for the time being at least.
"He is the player everybody wants to see. He joined our practice this week and he started understanding our tactics. I plan to send him onto the pitch for our next game," said Panasonic coach Norifumi Nakajima.
Williams, who is also New Zealand's heavyweight boxing champion, announced that he would return to Rugby League, his old stomping ground, earlier this year after a season with Panasonic, and is heavily rumoured to be joining the Bondi-based Sydney Roosters.
The 27-year-old is reportedly trying to convince mercurial Wallaby Quade Cooper to join him in the switch to Australian Rugby League, with the divisive flyhalf under a cloud after the thrashing by the Kiwis.
"If people are saying he is not wanted in rugby… if they think he is not good enough to be playing for Australia then I would love to lure him across to Rugby League for a year," Williams told Sydney's Sunday Telegraph newspaper.
"I will try. I would definitely love to play alongside him. I think he would be a success — I have spoken to him about it."
Cooper, 24, has been under heavy scrutiny since his inconsistent performances at last year's World Cup, which culminated in a serious knee injury that sidelined him for much of the 2012 Super Rugby season.