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Sonny Bill Williams (File)
Auckland - Sonny Bill Williams has almost certainly played his last All Black Test in 2012, but there is genuine hope he may rekindle his rugby career in 2014.
According to the NZ Herald website
, Williams will almost definitely not feature in the Rugby Championship - meaning his stunning effort in Hamilton against Ireland may in fact be his last act in international rugby.
The 26-year-old will shortly announce he has signed a one-season deal with Japanese club Panasonic Wild Knights and will then shift to the NRL - most likely with the Sydney Roosters - in early 2013.
There are strict registration rules in Japan and the New Zealand Rugby Union is awaiting confirmation that Williams will have to report for Knights duty by August 30.
There remains an outside chance that Williams will make himself available for the All Blacks' opening two Rugby Championship games - the back-to-back encounters against the Wallabies on August 18 and August 25 - and then it would be up to coach Steve Hansen as to whether he is willing to accommodate the midfielder.
Williams has been in stunning form for both the All Blacks and the Chiefs and the temptation to include him in those Wallaby clashes will be strong, should he be available.
Williams is unlikely to commit to the NRL for more than one year. It is understood he has expressed a desire to return to the Chiefs in 2014 and be part of the All Blacks' defence of the 2015 Rugby World Cup.