Rugby

SBW confirms league switch

2012-11-13 08:00
Sonny Bill Williams (File)

Sydney - Former All Blacks centre Sonny Bill Williams on Tuesday confirmed his return to rugby league by agreeing a one-year deal with the Sydney Roosters in Australia's National Rugby League.

Williams, who was a member of New Zealand's Rugby World Cup-winning team last year, revealed in July that he would quit rugby union and return to the 13-a-side rival code.

The Roosters have now announced his recruitment for the 2013 NRL season.

"I'm looking forward to getting back out there in a game I grew up playing and put my best foot forward," said Williams, who is also part-time heavyweight boxer.

The 27-year-old admits he only left rugby union after 17 internationals with the All Blacks because of a handshake agreement he once made with Roosters chairman Nick Politis.

Williams, who is currently playing for Panasonic Wild Knights in Japan's rugby union Top League, first rose to prominence in the NRL, winning the 2004 premiership with the Canterbury Bulldogs in his rookie season.

But he controversially walked out on the club in mid-season four years later and switched to union with Toulon.

He returns to league after a five-year absence during which he won the Super Rugby championship this year with the Waikato Chiefs, and appeared at his first Roosters press conference with his arm in a sling.

It follows recent surgery on a pectoral muscle injury that forced him to postpone his scheduled heavyweight boxing match with South African veteran Francois Botha.

Williams said the injury would take another two to four months to heal but he expected to be ready for round one of the NRL season in early March.

"It was pretty tough (to come back). It's tough, but me and Nick (Politis) are good friends, good mates," he said.

"He tried to get me when I was an 18-year-old. When I made that (handshake) agreement with him I knew it would always be the case.

"This isn't a decision I have made for money - if that was the case, I would be staying with rugby union. I have signed with the club for one season so as to fulfil my pre-existing boxing commitments."

He declined to confirm whether he would be available for the Kiwis' Rugby League World Cup campaign next year, saying it could depend on his boxing commitments.

Read more on:    sonny bill williams  |  rugby
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