All Blacks star Sonny Bill Williams, who has been hampered by injuries
in recent years, hinted on Wednesday this could be his last year with Super
Rugby and possibly New Zealand rugby.
The announcement came as a pretender to Williams’ throne, Ngani
Laumape, revealed he had rejected lucrative offers to play overseas and
re-signed with New Zealand through to the end of 2021.
The 33-year-old Williams, eight years older than Laumape and a veteran of 51 Tests, is already a double World Cup winner.
But his illustrious career could end when his contract with Zealand
Rugby and the Blues comes up for renewal after the next World
Cup in Japan later this year.
Williams has previously been linked to a return to rival code rugby
league after the global showpiece, but the frustration of a string of
injuries over the past two years has the code-hopper questioning how
much longer he can carry on.
“The last two years have been so injury ravaged I’ve come to
understand that I have a plan but that God is the best planner. I put my
faith in God and work hard and try to be the best person – husband,
father, team-mate – that I can be,” Williams told the New Zealand
Asked whether this could be his last year playing Super Rugby with
the Blues, he replied: “It could be, bro, it could be.”
To be eligible for the All Blacks, a player must be resident in New Zealand and playing for a New Zealand side.
“If I did finish at the end of the year, as long as I competed every
day and put my best foot forward as a person and a player I’ll be happy.
Williams this year will be partnered in the Blues midfield
with Test centurion Ma’a Nonu, who, at the age of 37, has returned from
three years playing in Europe to try to regain his All Blacks jersey.
But Laumape is looking to stake his own claim to be a starting centre
for the All Blacks after making five of his Test appearances off the
The 25-year-old said he had “received offers to head overseas” at the
end of the year but preferred to remain in New Zealand with the
Wellington Hurricanes and push to cement his place in the All Blacks.
“It was a decision that I feel really happy with and it also gives me
and my family security to know where we will be to at least the end of
2021,” he said.
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen welcomed Laumape’s decision, describing
him as an “outstanding young All Black” who he expected to be playing
Test rugby “for some years to come.”
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