It was announced earlier this week that Sonny Bill Williams’ four year stay in rugby union is coming to an end. The 17 cap All Black will complete the season with his current club, the Chiefs in the Super XV, before moving to Ōta city to play for the Panasonic Wild Knights in the Japanese Top League. He is contracted for one campaign there and is then expected to move back to rugby league and the NRL to play for the Sydney Roosters.
It has been a crazy few years for the convert who has represented some of the best sides at both club and international level – these include Toulon, the Barbarians, the Crusaders and the New Zealand All Blacks.
During his time in league he had learnt how to offload the ball in the tackle which is something which was rarely seen before in union before his arrival. This ability and the fact that he is 6ft 4in tall and weighs close to 110kg made him more than a handful for opposition defenders.
He moved to rugby union with Toulon without his club at the time, the Canterbury Bull Dogs, knowing. This lead to the french side having to pay the Bull Dogs a fee of around £300,000.
He played against Australia for the Barbarians in 2009 and this followed by helping Toulon to the final of the 2009/10 European Challenge Cup, before rejecting their next contract offer to move back to New Zealand and earn a place in the New Zealand side.
Sonny Bill played for the Crusaders throughout the 2011 Super XV season and finished with 5 tries to his name along with the highest number of offloads in the league and a runners up medal after losing to the Queensland Reds in the final.
Williams was part of the world cup winning New Zealand side and came on as a substitute in the final. In his 17 appearances for the All Blacks he managed six tries with four of these coming during the RWC campaign.
Shortly after the competition ended there was heavy speculation he would be heading back to league, however opted to sign a one year contract with the Chiefs for the 2012 Super XV season.
Hopefully one day he will return to union to give it a second shot and help the All Blacks in retaining the Rugby World Cup in 2015.