A HANDSHAKE agreement he made with an unnamed NRL club prior to switching to rugby is the reason why Sonny Bill Williams has decided to turn his back on the All Blacks.
The midfielder confirmed today that he would return to rugby league next year via a playing stint in Japan with Panasonic following his Super Rugby commitments with the Chiefs.
Although he refused to disclose the name of the NRL side he will join, it is believed to be the Sydney Roosters.
Before he returns to the rival code, though, he will play 12 games for Panasonic in a deal that is believed to be worth $1.7 million.
Williams, who will not be available for Rugby Championship selection, says he would have liked to have stayed in New Zealand, but feels obliged to honour the handshake agreement he made with the NRL club.
“I didn’t think I would have loved it as much as I have back here. To be honest, I kind of felt like I’d found my place at the Chiefs, with the boys, but it just goes back to [the fact] I've given someone my word, this was a while ago, and I've had to go on with it even though it was tough,” he told reporters.
The 26-year-old says at the time he made the commitment to league he was not confident he could return to New Zealand and make a success of rugby.
“I might not have been good enough and pressure was certainly on me, it wasn't on anyone else.
“If it was about the money then I would have just stayed in France [with Toulon] where I was getting pretty good coin.”
Williams has not ruled out returning to New Zealand, and speculation is that he would likely come back to try and make the All Blacks’ 2015 Rugby World Cup squad.
“If things work out, I’d like to one day come back. But I'm not going to hold my breath because there are good players coming up,” he says.
“In a perfect world, yes [I would stay in New Zealand], but it is a pretty difficult situation and I just have to make the most of it.”« Back to Articles
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