Wynne Gray

Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

All Blacks: Flitting SBW keeps 'em guessing

Sonny Bill Williams of the All Blacks looks on during the New Zealand All Blacks captain's run. Photo / Getty Images.
Sonny Bill Williams of the All Blacks looks on during the New Zealand All Blacks captain's run. Photo / Getty Images.

Who knows what Sonny Bill Williams' sporting future will hold. Beyond the rest of this season and next, he does not appear to have it sorted.

But you'd have to say he has nailed his time in rugby this season when he benefited from his prolonged playing time with the Chiefs.

He looked like he was comfortable with his game at second five-eighths and he knew what he was about.

That had not always been the case with the multi-talented Williams in his three seasons in New Zealand.

When he wears the All Black uniform for the 19th time tomorrow at Eden Park, there will be a range of thoughts about his contribution to New Zealand rugby and whether there will be any more.

If he does signal his intentions to play rugby here in 2014 and beyond, the NZRU should insist on at least a two-year deal without any of the sideshow boxing deals which have dotted his campaigns.

It's hard to tell what Williams is contemplating.

When he arrived from his stint in Toulon, Williams felt unsure about his connection and whether he was up to standard. He was out of his comfort zone but the All Black selectors still picked him for the end-of-year tour.

Slowly the game became intuitive, the nuances began to connect with his brain and instincts. He enjoyed his shift to the Chiefs; he found empathy with the coaching staff and was comfortable in the brotherhood of the team.

He got the game, he understood it, something clicked and with his regular matchplay, Williams' confidence increased.

He talks about wanting to return to rugby but in the same sentence qualifies that by talking about the uncertainty of the future. He wished he could stay but he couldn't.

Williams has brought a fascination with his play. He has shown us all a different way to play the game, he has drawn extra crowds to matches and provided a fascinating study into the life of a nomadic superstar.

Where does Williams sit in this country's rugby hall of fame?

He is in the waiting room, watching blokes like Ma'a Nonu, Aaron Mauger and Walter Little who were consistent threats at second five-eighths over a number of seasons, wondering if he will come back for a second crack at icing his rugby career.

- NZ Herald

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