9 Jul 2012

Sonny Bill Williams confirms he's leaving New Zealand rugby

1:11 pm on 9 July 2012

The All Black, Sonny Bill Williams will return to playing rugby league in Australia next year after a stint playing rugby in Japan.

Williams held a press conference at the Chiefs' headquarters in Hamilton this morning to confirm his plans after weeks of speculation.

26-year-old Williams has confirmed a deal with the Japanese rugby club Panasonic Wild Knights and will leave for Japan following the Super Rugby competition, in time for the start of the Japanese Top League competition in September.

The All Blacks Head Coach Steve Hansen says while Williams has been with New Zealand rugby for only a short time, his contribution has been immense.

He says this season has seen the birth of Williams as a rugby player, with his game understanding now complementing his array of skills.

He says it's a shame that New Zealand rugby is losing him but respects his decision.

Williams has advised that he will not be seeking to return to New Zealand rugby in 2013, but has not ruled out a return to New Zealand rugby in the future.

Williams will return to the National Rugby League in Australia next year where the Sydney Roosters are widely tipped to get his services but the dual international says no deals have been signed.

Williams has played 17 Tests for the All Blacks and more than 20 Super Rugby matches for the Chiefs and Crusaders.