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Sonny Bill Williams

Sonny Bill Williams & Dan Carter

Sonny Bill Williams & Dan Carter

Dan Carter and Sonny Bill Williams will not travel to South Africa for Round 2 of The Rugby Championship next weekend.

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has named a 31-man squad to travel to Johannesburg for the Test against the Springboks on 25 July with Carter and Williams being rested.

“In deciding on the squad to travel to South Africa, the selectors based their selections on 3 criteria,” explained Hansen.

“Firstly, we have picked experienced players who are well aware of the challenge of playing South Africa at home.

“Secondly, we want to give some other players the opportunity to see how they cope under the extreme pressure of playing South Africa and thirdly, we took into consideration the fact that some players in the squad could do with having a break for various reasons, so they will be staying home to freshen up.”

Hansen feels Carter and Williams deserve a break.

“Normally if we had a squad of 31, both of them would be in it and would be coming,” he said.

“Sonny has got bit of a busy schedule so we will let him have some time at home and DC can have some time at home as well – along with the other guys.”

All players who are remaining in New Zealand will be given individual training programmes to work on and will reassemble with the rest of squad in August and be available for selection for the Bledisloe Cup Tests.

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Sonny Bill Williams

Sonny Bill Williams

Liam Messam

Liam Messam

The Chiefs will be without a host of players next season including captain Liam Messam who will play Sevens in a bid to make the Olympics.

Messam and star centre Sonny Bill Williams will be part of a large group of players that will not be around next season, and coach Dave Rennie admitted that his captain will be a massive loss to the side.

“Not just his playing ability but his leadership – he’s very charismatic, incredibly passionate – he’ll be very difficult to replace.

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Sonny Bill Williams

Sonny Bill Williams

Sonny Bill Williams has been issued with a Citing Commissioner Warning for a dangerous tackle.

The Chiefs centre was warned for contravening Law 10.4 (e) Dangerous tackling during the clash with the Hurricanes in New Plymouth on Saturday.

The incident occurred in the 40th minute at Yarrow Stadium, but was not serious enough to warrant further sanction.

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Sam Cane

Sam Cane

Sonny Bill Williams

Sonny Bill Williams

Chiefs coach Dave Rennie will be forced to rest star loose forward Sam Cane when they take on the competition leaders, the Hurricanes, in the Final Round of Super Rugby league action.

However, he looks set to rush back star midfielder Sonny Bill Williams as they push for a home ground advantage in the preliminary play-offs.

Rennie confirmed they would not play Cane against the competition’s runaway leaders, the Hurricanes, in New Plymouth on Saturday.

“We’ll probably give Sam a rest this week and freshen him up prior to the quarterfinals, because he’s played a fair bit of footy,” Rennie told a post-match media briefing.

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Mike Fitzgerald

Mike Fitzgerald

The Chiefs will have at least 1 of their specialist locks back from injury to take on the Highlanders in Invercargill on Saturday but that might be all.

Lock Mike FitzGerald is good to go after missing the last match against the Bulls and most of the previous 1 against the Hurricanes with a particularly bad haematoma on his thigh, but there are still doubts over both star All Blacks 2nd rowers Brodie Retallick and concussed Englishman Matt Symons.

Retallick has now missed 3 matches with the shoulder injury he picked up in the Chiefs’ win over the Force in Hamilton, having missed 5 weeks of the competition earlier in the season when he hurt his other shoulder.

He took part in training yesterday morning, but head coach Dave Rennie said there was still a question mark over him this week as he works on regaining strength in his shoulder.

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Sonny Bill Williams

Sonny Bill Williams

Chiefs head coach Dave Rennie has made 5 changes to his starting 15 for Friday’s clash with the Crusaders in Christchurch.

Brad Weber starts at scrumhalf and Sonny Bill Williams and Charlie Ngatai return from injury to take their place in the midfield.

Tim Nanai-Williams comes onto the right wing with Tom Marshall moving to fullback while Michael Fitzgerald, Augustine Pulu and Andrew Horrell all join the reserves.

The Chiefs won the corresponding fixture between these sides, 40 / 16 in Hamilton in Round 3. Despite that result, Rennie expects a tough battle against the 7-time champions.

“The Crusaders are a quality side,” he said.

“Our previous encounters with them have been of test match intensity and this is a must win game for both sides to remain in touch with the Hurricanes.”

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Sonny Bill Williams

Sonny Bill Williams

Sonny Bill Williams’ delayed concussion symptoms are giving Chiefs coach Dave Rennie headaches of his own.

Rennie said he will wait until Friday, to give his star centre a shot at playing against the Sharks in Durban on Saturday.

The All Black superstar suffered a head-clash with Stormers prop Vincent Koch last weekend in Cape Town, forcing him to leave the field for a concussion test.

Williams returned to the playing field to complete most of the game, but has been suffering from headaches and showing symptoms of concussion.

For the Chiefs coach, Rennie, there is now a nervous wait to see if Williams can complete the mandatory protocols – in order to be declared fit to face the Sharks in this Super Rugby Round 6 crunch clash.

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Sonny Bill Williams

Sonny Bill Williams

Sonny Bill Williams has been given a May deadline to confirm his availability for New Zealand’s Sevens team that will compete at the Olympic Games next year.

Williams, who is currently preparing for another boxing bout, is one of several high-profile All Blacks on the wishlist of NZ Sevens coach Gordon Tietjens.

The others are brothers Julian and Ardie Savea, Liam Messam, Charles Piutau, Ben Smith, Hosea Gear and Victor Vito.

Of that group, only Williams has no previous Sevens experience.

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Chauncy Welliver

Chauncy Welliver

American heavyweight boxer Chauncy Welliver has promised to be in shape for his clash with Sonny Bill Williams and is 1 000% sure he will beat the All Blacks star.

Sonny Bill Williams, 29, will make a long-awaited return to the ring against Welliver in Sydney on Saturday 31 January, ending a two-year absence since his controversial points win over South Africa’s Francois Botha.

Welliver, 31, has never looked in the best of shape and weighed 137kg for his last fight against Alexander Ustinov in Moscow last month, which he lost by unanimous decision.

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Liam Messam - the boxer

Liam Messam – the boxer

Fiery All Black loose forward Liam Messam will return to the growing ranks of Rugby Union players dabbling in boxing as a pre-season pastime.

Messam, known for his abrasive approach to the game, will be on the undercard when superstars Sonny Bill Williams and Quade Cooper headline the action at the inaugural Footy Show Fight Night in Sydney next month.

Rugby League star Paul Gallen and rising Australian boxer Willis Meehan will also feature in the 31 January event.

Messam’s last entry into the square ring was a points defeat to Gallen in December last year, after he had also beaten Wendell Sailor in 2011.

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Sonny Bill Williams

Sonny Bill Williams

Dan Carter

Dan Carter

New Zealand welcomed back superstars Dan Carter and Sonny Bill Williams for next month’s Northern Hemisphere tour, but dropped pivot Colin Slade, despite his heroics against Australia at the weekend.

Flyhalf Carter, the world’s most prolific international points scorer, has not played since breaking his leg in the Super Rugby Final in August, while Williams returns to the All Blacks after two seasons playing Rugby League in Australia.

There is also a return for Aaron Cruden, who has finally been forgiven for his late-night indiscretion in the latter stages of the Rugby Championship.

Coach Steve Hansen also recalled flank Victor Vito at the expense of Steven Luatua, and included promising scrumhalf Augustine Pulu as the only uncapped player in the squad for the four-Test tour.

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Sonny Bill Williams will play NPC rugby for Counties Manukau next week, 12 days after his Roosters side was knocked out of the NRL finals series.

Sonny Bill Williams has put an end to all the speculation and will make his return to rugby for Counties Manukau next Wednesday.

The Counties Manukau Rugby Union have confirmed Williams will make his much anticipated Steelers’ debut – and return to rugby after a two-year stint for the Sydney Roosters in the NRL – against Auckland in a national provincial championship match in Pukekohe next Wednesday night.

The union will officially announce today that the 29-year-old will play in the Steelers’ final two matches of the season – against Auckland and Tasman – despite his contract with the NPC side only starting next year.

But unless injuries strike, Williams won’t make his comeback for the All Blacks until the end of year tour to the United States and Europe.

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Taine Randell

Taine Randell

On merit, history suggests Sonny Bill Williams will play second fiddle to Ma’a Nonu again.

The only time Williams genuinely cracked the All Blacks was when Nonu had a wretched run with injury. He was No 1 by default. At the last World Cup he was a bit-part player at best.

In terms of the exemption he was granted to be picked for the end of year tour without having to play in the NPC for Counties Manukau, I’m not in favour of it.

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Sonny Bill Williams

Sonny Bill Williams

Sonny Bill Williams has been granted a special exemption to be picked for the All Blacks’ end of year tour.

New Zealand Rugby Union chief executive Steve Tew confirmed on Monday Williams would not need to play in the National Provincial Championship following his commitments with the Sydney Roosters in the NRL.

NZRU rules state that players must take part in the preceding domestic competition in order to be eligible for the All Blacks.

However, the board voted on Friday to make an exemption for Williams should he not be able to make an appearance for Counties-Manukau either due to the length of the Roosters season, or injury.

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Brad Thorn

Brad Thorn: Still going strong at 39

Brad Thorn will continue his incredible 444-game career beyond his 40th birthday with English rugby giants, Leicester.

Meanwhile another code-hopper is preparing for his own return to action with Sonny Bill Williams hoping to return for Sydney Roosters either this weekend or next.

Williams will be hoping to sign off in rugby league – for now anyway – with a second straight NRL premiership before he returns to Hamilton to re-join Super Rugby’s Chiefs.

Both Williams and Thorn are incredible cross-code stories. But who deserves the mantle as the greatest code-hopper of all time?

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Toe Evile

Sonny Bill Williams’ training session in Apia ended with the league star giving his shoes and socks to Toe Evile.

“Shoeless” Joe Jackson got his nickname during a mill game played in Greenville, South Carolina. Jackson suffered from blisters on his foot from a new pair of cleats, and they hurt so much that he had to take his shoes off before an at bat.

As play continued, a heckling fan noticed Jackson running to third base in his socks, and shouted “You shoeless son of a gun, you!” and the resulting nickname “Shoeless Joe” stuck with him throughout the remainder of his life.

Will a similar fate await Sonny Bill Williams? The Good Samaritan was also left shoeless after obliging a fan in Samoa.

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Nemani Nadolo

Nemani Nadolo

Nemani Nadolo will remain at the Crusaders for two more years, after reports in New Zealand said the giant Fijian winger “never had any intention of going anywhere else”.

“We have loved having Nemani in the Crusaders this season, as have our fans, so it gives me great pleasure to confirm that he will be returning to the team next year and in 2016,” Crusaders chief executive Hamish Riach said.

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Sonny Bill Williams

The mercurial Sonny Bill Williams is close to returning to Rugby Union

Dual international Sonny Bill Williams will be considered for the New Zealand’s end of year tour if he is fit and in top form.

That is the word from All Blacks coach Steve Hansen who said time was a factor less than a year out from the Rugby World Cup. Hansen feels Williams’ return to the All Blacks will depend on his condition when he returns from the Sydney Roosters’ NRL campaign and whether he manages to play some part for Counties Manukau in the ITM Cup.

Hansen admitted that he hoped Williams’ return to Test rugby is sooner rather than later.

“There is no doubt he’s an exceptional rugby player and if he’s available then we’d be foolish not to look at him, but we have to take into account he’s come off a big season,” Hansen told Fairfax Media.

“We have to take a whole lot of things into consideration before we make a decision. What’s right for Sonny? What’s right for the team?”

“Next year’s a bit different because we don’t have the June series and if we can’t use him going into the World Cup then if we can have that opportunity to spend time with him then that would be good.”

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Sonny Bill Williams

Sonny Bill Williams

Tana Umaga

Tana Umaga

Code-hopping star Sonny Bill Williams will reunite with his former Toulon coach Tana Umaga when he returns to New Zealand rugby next year from rugby league.

Williams, who has played for New Zealand at both rugby and league World Cups, has signed a two year deal to play for Counties Manukau, coached by Umaga, in New Zealand’s National Provincial Championships. He has previously signed to play Super Rugby for the Hamilton-based Chiefs.

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New ZealandChiefsSonny Bill WilliamsThe New Zealand Rugby Union have confirmed that cross-code star Sonny Bill Williams has signed with the Chiefs for 2015.

Williams, who will continue in rugby league with the Sydney Roosters in 2014, has signed a two-year deal, meaning he could appear for the All Blacks at the 2015 World Cup.

He will return to the Chiefs, for whom he played in 2012, in the Super Rugby competition.

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Sonny Bill WilliamsThe New Zealand Rugby Union have admitted to trying to tempt former All Blacks superstar Sonny Bill Williams back to the 15-a-side code from Rugby League.

Williams left the 15-a-side game earlier this year to return to his first love, league, after a four-year flirtation with union.

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Sonny Bill Williams has withdrawn from the Baa-Baas and is replaced by Richard Kahui.

Drew Mitchel is injured again and expected to miss the opening Rounds of Super Rugby.

Conrad Smith is named as Hurricanes Captain for 2012.

Derick Hougaard could be back at the Bulls.

Bolla Conradie, Elgar Watts & Clemen Lewis, all from Boland, as well as Burton Francis are included in Stormers plans for 2012.

Graham Henry rules out England coaching job.

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