Chiefs unlikely to keep SBW in Hamilton

Sonny Bill Williams will likely announce a long-term commitment to New Zealand Rugby tomorrow morning, with two teams both putting down offers for the code-hopping superstars services.

Tana Umaga has been quietly planning for the future at the Blues and has already signed a big name at halfback with the signature of Augustine Pulu, but the rumour mill has always been rife with talk that the one player Umaga really wanted to add to the Blues roster was Williams.

Umaga is so serious to lure Williams that he travelled to Sydney this week to meet with the code-hopping superstars’ manager Khoder Nasser to put an offer on the table.  Continue reading Chiefs unlikely to keep SBW in Hamilton

SBW must find superstar pedigree in Canes clash

With average performances at best in 2015, Sonny Bill Williams will need to be at his brilliant best tonight against the Hurricanes.

(Photo credit: Radiosport via Google Images) 

Sonny Bill Williams hasn’t played for several weeks, and with a mediocre season for the Chiefs so far, it seems as if the code-hopping superstar may have more on the line tonight than the actual result for his side.

Williams has one try in 2015, against the Crusaders all the way back in week three.

It was clear that Williams partnered well with Damian McKenzie in week one against the Blues in Albany.

With Aaron Cruden on the shelf for the rest of the year, Williams will go to battle tonight with Marty McKenzie like he did against the Rebels in Hamilton back on Anzac weekend.

Some in the media have speculated that Williams returned to New Zealand in the hopes of being the first choice All Black midfielder.

But the form of Ma’a Nonu and Conrad Smith has all but pushed Williams to the bench come international season, and even that status is being questioned by many.

Williams’ turnover rate is high with ball in hand.

The real depth of Williams’ back strain injury has never been fully known.

Dave Rennie told media this week that Williams could have played last week against the Reds, and tonight’s return against the Hurricanes was always part of the plan.

It is believed that Williams’ return will bolster the Chiefs chances in New Plymouth, but the stats so far suggest this is far from the case.

Williams is not just playing for the Chiefs tonight, he is playing for his credibility in his union return.

Dave Rennie satisfied with Chiefs progress

The Chiefs head into their Super Rugby opener against the Blues with all eyes locked on the squad selection.

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The squad for the Blues match is expected to be announced on Thursday.

A handful of All Blacks will not feature in the Chiefs opening round of Super Rugby against the Blues. All Black players confirmed to not be available for opening round are Aaron Cruden and Liam Messam.

Brodie Rettalick is also unlikely to feature on Saturday night.

Coach Dave Rennie confirmed that the selection of the crucial first five eighth position is now down to a battle between the McKenzie brothers of Damian and the older, more experienced, Marty.

“They stood up really well and will duel it out again this weekend” Rennie said.

Andrew Horrell is the other option at first five but has been under an injury cloud for the entirety of the pre season, and despite training with full contact and kicking during today’s practice, Andrew Horrell will not be available for the Blues match this weekend.

Horrell is expected to be a part of the development squad for Saturdays curtain raiser.

Damian McKenzie featured in Fridays final pre season game against the Waratahs, a squad jam packed with Wallabies regulars including Adam Ashley Cooper, Michael Hooper, Kurtely Beale, and Israel Folau.

McKenzie admitted to being a bit star struck early on during the occasion.

“I was a bit star struck at first and nearly fell off my seat when I saw the squad. People you’ve looked up to when you were younger so it was awesome to play against them.”

The Chiefs posted 77 points in their two pre season games, comprehensively beating the Blues and narrowly losing to the Waratahs.

In the absence of regular Chiefs loose forward Liam Messam, much confidence can be taken in the likely selection of Tevita Koloamatangi who scored twice during the pre season, including an effort where he outran Kurtley Beale.

James Low is also viable option on the wing if he is fit enough after getting two tries in the Chiefs first trial game.

‘Tortuous’ boxing preparation helping SBW ease back into rugby

With his return to boxing just a few weeks away, Sonny Bill Williams hopes his boxing preparation will allow him to hit the ground running when he returns to the rugby field for the Chiefs.

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Williams described his boxing training as physically challenging but said that it refreshes him mentally.

Some media outlets inside team SBW have described the cross-code superstars’ training as physically and mentally torturing.

Williams also claims that being a father to his newborn baby girl is a huge motivator on days where the lows are low.

“I’ve been using it as motivation and after sparring where I have been hit a few too many times going home to the wife and the little one is an awesome feeling.”

Williams’ family is expected to arrive in Hamilton with him sometime over the next few days.

Boxing has long been touted as being good rugby preparation for Williams. The former Sydney Roosters league star says that not only is his boxing regime grueling, but it gets him away from rugby which can be a good thing from a mental viewpoint in relation to the boxing.

“Obviously, physically I am in the best shape possible and mentally I am feeling pretty good as well because I am away from all that.”

 

Williams hasn’t been surprised with any big changes to the Chiefs environment upon his return to New Zealand apart from some new team mates thrown in with a few familiar faces.

Williams will step back into the boxing ring on January 31st against Chauncy Welliver in Sydney.

The Chiefs will play a pre season game against the Waratahs, also in Sydney, just a few days after the fight and Williams is reported to be very keen to play in that match.

Chiefs head coach Dave Rennie says Williams is a chance, but admitted to being concerned about the impact on the Chiefs if Williams was to get KO’d by Welliver in the ring.

SBW returning to the NRL after next Union stint likely

Sonny Bill Williams will likely return to the NRL at some point before the end of his career, but if this is to be his last appearance in league, the man who so many follow has more than paid his dues to the faithful since signing with the Roosters.

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It seems like only yesterday when brand SBW quickly left the Bulldogs and exited the NRL completely.

Fast forward a few years, and a Rugby World Cup win with the All Blacks as well, Williams was back in Australia and playing for the Roosters.

There was immediate uproar at how Channel Nine packaged Williams’s first game back, many called it a WWE-style promo which was just too staged when the network used Williams’s voice, taken from an interview, as a “inside the mind” style commentary while he warmed up on the sidelines and took to the field for the first time in a Roosters jersey.

But the on field performances were not controversial, capturing the NRL Premiership with the Roosters in 2013, and helping the side to one game short of the grand final the next season.

In doing so, Williams also managed to win back the hearts of the general NRL fan base, excluding the Bulldogs supporters.

Williams has said he will leave the NRL with no regrets but hasn’t ruled out a potential return to league after his rugby union stint back in New Zealand ends, presumably after two years.

It is entirely likely that the Roosters may be where Williams will end his famous career.

Bigger things are ahead for SBW for now, including the birth of his first child in the next month or so, before Super Rugby begins with the Chiefs in January’s pre season.

With his wife expected to give birth in sometime around November, it remains to be seen if Williams will make his much talked about return to the All Blacks during the end of year tour to the USA and Europe, and talk of Williams outing against the Wallabies mid October in Brisbane hasn’t been discussed in either camp Hansen or camp SBW.

While Roosters fans will no doubt be sad to see SBW leaving Australia, they should be quite confident that it probably won’t be the last time they see him in the red, blue, and white jersey.