Williams to stay in NZ

by Staff Writer

Sonny Bill Williams has turned his back on plans to move abroad after this year's Rugby World Cup and will instead sign a new one-year deal with the New Zealand Rugby Union.

The former Kiwis rugby league international said apart from the pride he felt playing for the All Blacks, the backing from fans had encouraged him to prolong his stay in New Zealand.

"I'm committed to staying here for another year. The amount of support I've got has been pretty humbling and cool at the same time," he said.

But while the 25-year-old centre will play his rugby in New Zealand next year, who he will be playing for remains up in the air.

Williams played his debut season of Super Rugby this year for the Crusaders who were beaten finalists. However, the Christchurch-based franchise is now competing with the Chiefs and the Blues for his signature for 2012.

"It's a tough one I'm torn in three directions," he said.

Williams' mother lives in the Auckland suburb of Point Chevalier and fellow All Blacks midfielder Ma'a Nonu has recently signed for the Blues, while All Blacks backs coach Wayne Smith will be an assistant coach at the Chiefs next season.

Williams formed a dangerous combination with centre Robbie Fruean at the Crusaders this season but said his focus would be working hard on his rugby and hoping things fell into place off the field.

He did, however, say he wanted to confirm his playing future before the World Cup.

Meanwhile, All Blacks halfback Piri Weepu has yet to commit to the Hurricanes for next season.

He has had a contract offer from the franchise on the table for two weeks, but has yet to sign for the Wellington-based outfit which was bedevilled with off-field issues this season.

"I don't know yet - I can't really tell you," was his response to a question if he was going to re-sign with the Hurricanes.

"I've got a few options that I've got to go over and have a couple of talks to the coaches about things and then go from there."

Nonu, along with captain Andrew Hore, were told by the Hurricanes that their futures lay elsewhere.

Five-eighth Aaron Cruden has also exited the Hurricanes to sign with the Chiefs, while winger Hosea Gear has yet to sign a new deal.

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