Sonny Bill Williams doesn’t see his nomadic nature as being indicative of disloyalty.
Williams recently signed a lucrative one-year contract with the Chiefs but he is expected to leave the Hamilton franchise at the end of the season to return to rugby league with the Sydney Roosters. He started his professional career in the 13-man code with the Sydney Bulldogs before making a multi-million dollar move to French side Toulon. He then starred for the Crusaders in 2011 and earned a spot in the All Blacks’ World Cup winning squad.
The Sunday Star Times’ (New Zealand) Liam Napier put it to Williams’ that the most revered athletes earn respect through loyalty. Williams countered that argument, saying: ‘It is a business, man. These days, franchises are trying to do what is best for them – to make money. So you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do,’ Williams said of his future plans.
‘On the field, I’ll always back the boys and give my all. But when it comes to off the field, I’m smart in that sense. I know what the goal is and how to look after myself.’
Williams denied reports that he was committed to a NZ$4 million move to the Roosters, but said he had a strong desire to return to the code he was banned from four years ago for prematurely walking out on his Bulldogs contract.
‘Because I’ve grown up as a league player I always watch footy games, especially the big ones, State of Origin, the NRL grand final, and think `I wouldn’t mind being out there. I know you want something concrete, but I just do things I know is going to bring out the best in me, hence why I’ve been signing one-year deals.’
Former All Blacks and current Chiefs assistant coach Wayne Smith said he was hopeful Williams would stay in union but understood the player’s love for league. ‘He could be something special in this game (union) and find an important place in New Zealand society for the future,’ Smith said. ‘You look at our great All Blacks. They are held in high esteem in this country. He could achieve that. But he is his own man.’
Meanwhile Willaims’ boxing career continues unabated. It was announced on Sunday that he will fight Auckland-based American Clarence Tillman III for the vacant New Zealand heavyweight boxing title next month. His original opponent, Richard Tutaki, was recently arrested on drugs charges.