Can Sonny Bill become a 7s star?
Sonny Bill Williams will return to Rugby Union in 2015, but some pundits wonder if he will be able to adapt to the Sevens version.
Sonny Bill Williams will return to Rugby Union in 2015, and the Chiefs believe it will not take long for the star to rediscover his form and once again earn All Blacks representation.
Williams' signing does not come as a surprise, although the New Zealand Rugby Union's confirmation that his signature has been secured ensures that there is no uncertainty regarding the deal.
While missing out on a Rugby League World Cup winner's medal, Williams will aim to win another Rugby Union World Cup medal, assuming the All Blacks can create history and become the first nation to successfully defend a global championship.
The following year, all things willing, Williams will bid to make the All Blacks Sevens team, who will likely enter the 2016 Olympics as the Gold Medal favourites.
Gordon Tietjens has given cautious approval of a potential switch, even if one of the Australian pioneers of the abbreviated game said it would be a simple transition.
"You'd certainly think Sonny has all the attributes to adapt to the shorter game," Wallabies legend Mark Ella said.
"It takes time to adapt, to understand the game, the space, the different rule interpretations. But you'd have to think Sonny is the type of player who will do that fairly quickly."
The Chiefs will be the first team to have his services.
Coach Dave Rennie said the two-time champions were always willing to get Williams back on their roster, and the coaching team was disappointed when they missed out on his signing - with SBW opting to take a second year option with the Roosters.
"He made a massive impression on the franchise when he was with us a couple of years back, and we've made no secret of the fact we wanted to get him back," Rennie said.
The Super Rugby champions would not however have exclusive services over the back, who will once again wear the No.12 jersey in union.
"There's some things to be sorted out over the next year or so,” Rennie said.
"Post-World Cup [regarding the Olympics] he will make some big decisions about what he wants to do."
Rennie said that the franchise would not stand in the way of Williams trying to play for the All Blacks Sevens, a move that would rule him out of playing much Super Rugby during 2016, as well as playing at Test match level.
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen hasn't indicated it would be a switch that would be opposed, as did Rennie.
"We wouldn't stop him, either," Rennie said.
‘‘If that's what he wants to do, we'll support that. Likewise with other players who want to play in the Olympics. That's a rare opportunity for the players."
Source: SANZAR News Service