By Lee Stace
IF THE current murmurs are true, then All Blacks and Chiefs midfielder Sonny Bill Williams is about to pass up a golden opportunity to create a rugby legacy when it seems to be well within his grasp.
The man with the famous 'SBW' initials has apparently decided what his future beyond this year holds. The New Zealand Rugby Union knows his intentions. So too do the Chiefs and some of his teammates.
But they are remaining tight-lipped, and Williams is not expected to announce his plans for another couple of weeks.
The early noise being made is that Williams will return to the NRL with the Sydney Roosters on a one-year deal via a playing sabbatical in Japan with Panasonic. All that needs to be thrashed out are the details around his future boxing commitments.
It will be shame if he does depart – and this is coming from a scribe who has thrown a few jabs at SBW for the way he has carried on since arriving in New Zealand two years ago to further his rugby odyssey.
My opinion of the 26-year-old as a player has changed in the last six months. (I still feel his boxing career – crafted from fighting ham-and-eggers – is a charade, even if he is currently in possession of the New Zealand heavyweight boxing title.)
Williams has shown this year, firstly with the Chiefs in Super Rugby and recently with the All Blacks against Ireland, that he has turned a corner in his rugby development. He has added new layers to his game to become a well-rounded second five, his game understanding has improved and he is playing some of the best 15-man code of his career.
So much so that incumbent All Blacks No 12 Ma’a Nonu would’ve been worried about his job working in midfield tandem with the always-reliable Conrad Smith later in the year.
Williams is beginning to scratch the surface of his potential. He appears to be getting the hang of this rugby lark and is standing on the doorstep of greatness.
To throw it all away now just when it appears he is maturing into a special player would be stupid.
But sadly it seems he is set to depart rugby before chiselling his legacy in stone.
What a pity.
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