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Sonny Bill signs with Blues

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 31/05/2016
Sonny Bill Williams © Getty Images Sonny Bill Williams

Sonny Bill Williams says family is a prime reason he has chosen to play his Super Rugby with the Blues from next season.

The dual international has ended speculation about his sporting future by recommitting to New Zealand Rugby until the end of 2019.

But rather than staying with the Chiefs, whom he helped to win the title in 2012, he will be moving north.

At the Blues, he will rejoin Tana Umaga, his coach at French club Toulon when he first switched from rugby league eight years ago.

Williams, who was born and raised in Auckland, says it was a tough decision to turn his back on the Chiefs, for whom he also played last season.

But he and wife Alana have a one-year-old daughter and are looking to have more children.

"My wife doesn't have any family here and most of my family is in Auckland," he said.

"I'm an Auckland kid and it's pretty much home to me. That weighed a lot in my decision, and there's no secret me and Tana go way back."

Williams, 30, is missing from Super Rugby this year as he chases a berth in the NZ sevens team for the Rio Olympics.

He has played 33 Tests for the All Blacks and was part of their World Cup-winning campaigns in 2011 and 2015, being a key figure at last year with his midfield impact off the bench.

Between those two tournaments, he went back to the NRL, gaining a premiership with the Sydney Roosters.

In the months leading up to his announcement on Wednesday, there had been reports linking him with a move back to European rugby and to a return to the NRL.

But Williams said he more or less made up his mind shortly after last year's World Cup, when Test coach Steve Hansen rang him.

"When you have probably the best coach ever from the 15-man game telling you that you are part of his plans moving forward, that really means a lot," he said.

"Straight after that call, I pretty much got on to my manager and told him this is where I want to stay."

As for his departure from signing one-year contracts, Williams said he felt his rugby reached a different level at the World Cup and he now wanted to see how far he could go.

Hansen described Williams as freakish athlete and one of the best, if not the best, in his position.

"We saw that in the Rugby World Cup," Hansen said.

"He made a difference every time he played and he allowed us to have a one-two-three punch."

Hansen said Williams' involvement in sevens would only enhance his development in 15s.

"I think by the time he is finished, he will be one of the greats of the game." Williams is expect to join up with the All Blacks for the Rugby Championship after the Rio Games in August.

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