BBC Sport rugbyunion

IN ASSOCIATION WITH

Related BBC sites

Page last updated at 06:55 GMT, Thursday, 24 June 2010 07:55 UK

Sonny Bill Williams joins Canterbury in New Zealand

Sonny Bill Williams poses in a Canterbury top
Playing for New Zealand is a 'childhood dream' for Williams

Sonny Bill Williams has signed for New Zealand province Canterbury as he launches his bid to represent the All Blacks in the 2011 Rugby World Cup.

The ex-New Zealand rugby league star will represent the province in this season's domestic league and will play for the Crusaders in the 2011 Super 15.

"There were better offers [financially] - it was a very difficult decision," said the Auckland-born 24-year-old.

"For me it's all about trying to become an All Black."

Williams, who has spent the past two years playing rugby union with French top-flight side Toulon, turned down more lucrative offers from North Harbour, Counties-Manukau and Hawke's Bay to sign with the Canterbury Rugby Union.

He is expected to play his first ever senior game of rugby union in New Zealand when champions Canterbury face Hawke's Bay on 30 July in the first round of matches in the 2010 ITM Cup.

606: DEBATE
RugbyRugbyRugby

Crusaders' coach Todd Blackadder is delighted to have signed Williams, who starred in the Australian NRL for the Sydney-based Canterbury Bulldogs before switching codes to join Toulon, where he played alongside Jonny Wilkinson this season.

Earlier this week Wilkinson, the all-time leading points scorer in Test history, said he "definitely" thought Williams would play for the All Blacks, adding "I've not seen the likes of him before".

Williams said the chance to play alongside All Blacks fly-half Dan Carter, widely regarded as one of the best players in the world, influenced his decision to join Canterbury.

"Obviously (Carter) was a very big factor. He's one of the best number 10s in the world, up there with Jonny Wilkinson. I felt that when I was in Toulon I played my best rugby when I formed a good connection with Jonny," said Williams.

"I'm going down there with a blank page and I'm willing to learn off anyone, whether it be Dan Carter or the younger boys.

He's a guy that can turn a game on its head with his power and his skills
Dan Carter on Williams

"I'm still relatively new to this game and I know that, but I'm trying to put myself in the best situation. There's no cockiness from me, I'm just going over there to work hard."

Carter said he expected Williams to bring a bit of "X-factor" to the Canterbury set-up.

"It's fantastic news. He's a real athlete. Although I haven't had a chance to see a lot of him playing rugby union, from what I've heard he's a real prospect. It'll be fantastic to work alongside him," added Carter.

"He's a guy that can turn a game on its head with his power and his skills. His off-load abilities are fantastic. I think it'll add another dimension to our game."

Williams was one of rugby league's brightest young talents before his high-profile and ill-tempered switch to rugby union in 2008, when he walked out on the Bulldogs one year into a five-year deal to join Toulon.

He ended up having to pay the Bulldogs nearly £350,000 after he broke an injunction to stop him playing for another team after leaving the Australian side.

Williams reportedly turned down the biggest contract in club rugby history, worth $2m (£1.34m) a year, from Toulon before deciding to return to New Zealand.



Print Sponsor


see also
Williams payout settles dispute
18 Aug 08 |  Rugby League
Kiwi Williams ignores court order
08 Aug 08 |  Rugby League
Williams defends switch to union
07 Aug 08 |  Rugby League
Williams reveals alcohol problem
19 Jun 07 |  Rugby League
Williams hit by new injury worry
14 Feb 06 |  International
Making big hits with Sonny Bill
07 Oct 05 |  Get Involved
Williams has world at his feet
16 Feb 05 |  Rugby League


related bbc links:

related internet links:
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites