SONNY Bill Williams admitted to mixed emotions following an emphatic All Blacks swan song on Saturday night, but says a Super Rugby championship and a Bledisloe Cup triumph have made his departure an easier pill to swallow.
Williams will honour a promise to switch back to the NRL next year, but has made it clear in recent weeks he’s having regrets about leaving rugby just as he’s started to become an unstoppable force with his power running and unique ball skills.
The dynamic No.12 toyed with the Wallabies in Saturday night’s 22-0 whitewash at Eden Park, which clinched a tenth successive Bledisloe for the world champions.
Williams says he hopes he’ll one day pull on the black jersey again but said if he has indeed played his last rugby Test, he can be satisfied.
“Winning with the Chiefs and tonight has made me a little bit more happy leaving in that sense,” said Williams, who made two surging runs to set up the only try of Saturday’s match to Israel Dagg in the second half.
“But when you form friendships and close friendships, it’s always tough to leave.
“… You’re only caretakers of the jersey and you want to leave it better than when you’ve found it.”
Williams thought he’d played his final Test against Ireland in June before getting a late call from coach Steve Hansen to play a part in the opening Rugby Championship fixtures against Australia.
The 27-year-old said it was after the Irish series and he was out of the team’s inner circle when he discovered how much he’ll miss being an All Black.
Hansen said Williams would be sorely missed but would be welcomed back with open arms.
“Twelve months ago, he was a player who was probably a little bit impatient … but over the past 12 months, he’s learned (how to use his tricks) and got a game understanding very much like Brad Thorn,” said Hansen.
“This year, he’s been in scintillating form. It’s a shame he’s going but we all understand why he has to and we’re supportive of him and looking forward to him making a decision to come back as soon as he can.”