Sonny Bill Williams certainly made a statement on his return to Super Rugby. The Blues will be quite happy for him to do so again, but would rather it was for different reasons.

They want him to continue to express himself, more by what he does than by what he covers up. It's not that the Blues have been distracted or thrown by the rection to Williams' consceintious objection about sponsor's logos on the jersey.

It's not that they have any issue with it either. "We support his decision and his beliefs," captain James Parsons says.

"It is not new to us. It takes a lot of courage to do what he has done and I feed off that. I admire that and think good on him."


The whole point about Williams is that he's an athlete with differences - a man who, not by design or any specific goal of being contrary, is not quite like his peers.

That individualism seems to earn him the ire of many who obviously feel it needs to be beaten out of him. But for all those who have been asked to coach him, it is the number one quality they want to encourage.

Whatever anyone may think or say, Williams has never had any problems moulding his unique brand into the team environment. He can be himself within the collective goal of the team and that's exactly what the Blues want him to deliver tonight at Eden Park.

They brought him to Auckland to bring direction and stability to their attacking game. They brought him to run straight, commit defenders and then use his offloading to play others into holes.

And they brought him because Williams, after spending most of the last decade hopping from one contract to the next, finally said he was ready to commit to a three-year deal.

The importance of that is significant and to some extent is probably connected to his decision to push his objections about certain sponsors to the stage where he was no longer prepared to have them on his playing jersey.

Williams is married, he has two young children and presumably with that, has come a deeper sense of contentment. The sense of stability and permanance has seemingly led to a deepening of his faith and knowing that he's going to be around for the next few years, he's been prepared to take the stand that he is.

Those same factors may also manifest in his performances over the next few months. That's certainly what the Blues are hoping - that Williams, confident and content about who he and where he is, will build his game to new levels.

He knows, for the first time in a decade, that rugby is his present and his future. This is him now - a Blues player - presumably, for the remainder of his footballing life. He's closing in on 32, and while his rugby career has had a few highlights, Williams can't say he's delivered all that he can.

His rugby form has been disrupted by his constant code hopping and injury and what his legacy needs is a grand finale.

It's still too easy for his many detractors to say the hype which accomapnies his every move is undeserved. There is still an argument that can be mounted which says that if he packed everything in today, he'd be best remembered for what he did in league rather than rugby.

He needs a couple of years now where he fronts each week and does what everyone knows he can do.

There were signs in 2015 at the World Cup that he could be something special. He found a way to play his natural game and yet not overdo it. He found that elusive mix of adventure and conservatism.

Finding that again shouldn't be so hard. He is, as always, in impeccable physical condition. He seems to be ageless in that regard.

He'll need to be a little less frantic than he was in Dunedin - more controlled, focused on just doing the basics well.

Combine that with the certainty he has in who he is and why he's with the Blues and the prospect of Williams being talked about on Sunday morning for the way he played, is high.