Sonny Bill Williams has a place at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in his sights after signing a two-year contract with New Zealand rugby.
The New Zealand Rugby Union announced Williams, 28, will play for the two-time defending Super Rugby champion Chiefs from 2015 and revealed the cross code star is also eyeing a sevens rugby berth at the 2016 Olympic Games.
Williams was a key part of the Chiefs’ championship-winning side in 2012 but wasn’t involved in this year’s repeat after returning to rugby league.
Williams produced a standout 2013 season for the champion Sydney Roosters and in October confirmed he would play for them again in next year’s NRL.
It was widely expected he would then return to New Zealand, where a place in the All Blacks’ 2015 World Cup squad will be high on his priority list.
New Zealand Rugby Union chief executive Steve Tew says Williams has said during negotiations that he will pursue a place in New Zealand’s sevens rugby campaign the following year, when the abbreviated sport makes its Olympic debut.
“We think it is great that he has made his aspirations clear and if he plays well enough to be considered for selection for those teams, then that is fantastic,” Tew said.
Williams played 19 Tests for the All Blacks and was a member of their 2011 World Cup-winning squad.
He has played more than 30 Super Rugby matches for the Chiefs and Crusaders from 2010-2012, making an impact with his size, strength and trademark offloads at second five-eighth.
Chiefs coach Dave Rennie couldn’t hide his delight at signing such an influential player both on and off the field.
“We’re rapt. We made no secret that we were keen to get Sonny back in a Chiefs jersey,” he said.
“He’s not only a quality player but adds huge value to our environment off the field.”