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Sonny Bill Williams says he intended to stay on in New Zealand before the All Blacks lost to England at the Rugby World Cup.
The former All Black was speaking at his first press conference with Toronto Wolfpack, his new Canadian Super League side, at the Emirates Stadium in London. He had earlier met his new team-mates for the first time.
He told reporters he first became aware of Toronto’s interest in him during the Rugby World Cup campaign in Japan, but left it to his agents while he focussed on the games in hand.
He started considering the code-switching move after England’s surprise win over the All Blacks in the semi finals, he said.
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“To be honest before the World Cup I was intending to stay in New Zealand for another year in union,” Williams said.
“My manager was speaking to these guys around the [World Cup], I said I didn’t want to hear anything about it as I wouldn’t have been doing myself, New Zealand and the All Black jersey any justice.
“I was trying to be the best All Black I could be every single day.”
But after the semi finals he “caught up with my manager and he filled me in… that’s when we started having conversations”. Williams said he spoke to coach Steve Hansen a few days later.
The departing All Blacks midfielder will reportedly earn £2.6 million a year (NZ$5.25m) after his move to Toronto was confirmed last week and his two-year deal will make him the richest player in either rugby code.
Williams played his 58th and final test for the All Blacks in the World Cup’s bronze final on November 1 and he will return to l
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