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Sonny Bill: League in 2014, rugby in 2015

October 12, 2013

SYDNEY (AP) — Code-hopping star Sonny Bill Williams says he will spend another year in Australia’s National Rugby League before trying to reclaim a place in the All Blacks for the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

In an interview with Fairfax Media on Sunday, Williams said he would stay with the Sydney Roosters in 2014 in the hope of winning back-to-back NRL titles before returning to New Zealand rugby in 2015.

Williams this week turned down a three-year offer from the New Zealand Rugby Union in favor of a one-year deal with the Roosters and a place on the New Zealand team for the league World Cup.

He told Fairfax “my intentions are to try to go back after next year and force my way into the (All Blacks) squad but I know that I have put a lot of pressure on myself and I have to perform here at the Roosters.”

“A major factor in my desire to play next year was to try to go back to back because it hasn’t been done for so long.

“I know that it will be hard for me to force my way back into the New Zealand rugby setup but it was just something that I felt was right and I just went with my heart in the end. I decided that I wanted to stay with the boys because it is tough leaving when you are a part of the start of a successful thing.”

Williams said he will likely put his professional boxing career on hold to fully concentrate on his preparation for the next NRL season. He is the New Zealand professional heavyweight champion but could forfeit that title unless he enters negotiations for a title defense.

“For me, I just need to focus on what is at hand — that is just how I am as a sportsperson and I think that is what brings out the best in me,” Williams said.

“I hadn’t decided on a boxing fight or anything and now that I have put my name forward and been lucky enough to get a start here my full focus is going to be with the Kiwis and then the Roosters.

“I don’t think I will be fighting for the next three years at least if all goes to plan ... because this preseason will probably be the only time I will get a good base for the season. I probably won’t have any free time for a fight in the next couple of years either if all goes to plan.”

Williams was this week controversially included in the Kiwis team which will defend its league World Cup title in Britain this month after initially making himself unavailable. His late change of heart forced New Zealand coach Steve Kearney to cut young back-rower Tohu Harris from the squad to make room for Williams.

Williams said he had tried to contact Harris to explain the circumstances around his late inclusion.

“I have sent him a message to see if I can give him a call and tell him how I was feeling about the whole situation and my intentions,” Williams said.

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