Code-hopping Sonny Bill Williams has Olympic aspirations – he wants to win a medal at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games playing rugby sevens.
In heartening news for rugby fans, it is understood Williams plans to return to the 15-man game by 2015 to try to reclaim his All Blacks jersey for that year’s World Cup in England.
But Williams’s aspirations as a professional boxer may lead him to withdraw from all rugby after the 2016 Olympics, if things go to plan.
Williams, who has a fight against South African Francois Botha on February 8 for the World Boxing Association international heavyweight title, will play rugby league with the Sydney Roosters this season but has made no commitments beyond that.
Fairfax Media has learned he has a tentative road map for the remainder of his unusual career, which has taken him from league to rugby and back to league while also heading into professional boxing.
Williams would like to play, if selected, for the Kiwis at this year’s rugby league World Cup, and is open-minded about whether to play league or rugby next year. But he would definitely return to rugby before 2015 to have time to fight for his All Blacks jersey for the World Cup in England.
The following year he would spend on boxing and rugby sevens, with an eye to the Olympics, before becoming a full-time boxer. Sevens would combine well with a more serious focus on his boxing career because of the intense aerobic fitness the New Zealand Sevens team gain under their coach Gordon Tietjens.
Williams and his manager Khoder Nasser wouldn’t talk directly about their long-term plans, with Williams saying he didn’t want to look too far ahead and only considered ”what was going to get the best out of me and where I am going to be happy”.
But he did say he was motivated by challenges. ”When I am finished, I just want to say I have tried lots of things, and I’ve done as well as I can.”
It’s thought the Williams camp sees the trifecta of winning a league World Cup, being in the first All Blacks team to win a rugby World Cup offshore and then succeeding at the Olympics in Sevens is the biggest-possible sporting challenge he could take on.
The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.