NZ Rugby CEO revels in Williams retention
New Zealand Rugby chief executive Steve Tew has labelled Sonny Bill Williams as "arguably one of the world's greatest athletes", while outlining the significance of the cross-code star recommitting to the All Blacks.
A two-time winner of the Rugby World Cup, Williams is set to be available for a shot at a third title after agreeing a new three-year deal with New Zealand Rugby through to the end of the 2019 season.
The 30-year-old, who is currently focusing his energy on Sevens ahead of the Rio Olympics, will switch from Chiefs to Blues for the same period.
Tew told All Blacks TV: "I think it's a really important day for New Zealand Rugby - another real milestone for us and the work we're doing in our player retention.
"It's good to see arguably one of the world's greatest athletes committing for another three years, because he genuinely wants to be an All Black and involved in our game in this country.
"He wants to have a crack at not being a good All Black, but being a great All Black and so the three-year commitment is great news for all of us."
Tew added: "There is no doubt that he is a very special person. Since first signing with New Zealand Rugby back in 2010, he has made a significant impact, not only on the field but off the field as well.
"He is a huge star with particularly our younger fans and has been an inspiration to a whole generation of kids who, like Sonny, love the game of rugby."
Williams added: "I really love this environment. It's a privilege to be involved with the All Blacks.
"I was really loving my time with the Chiefs, so if it was pretty much just a straight rugby decision, then things could have been different. It was a hard decision to turn my back on the Chiefs."
Blues coach Tana Umaga is understandably thrilled to have Williams on board from 2017.
"I think his major connections here with family were a big driving force for him to move back to Auckland and be part of the Blues," said Umaga.
"We're fortunate to be able to get someone of his calibre signing with us and we're happy with that."