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Sonny Bill to announce imminent departure

Date

Brad Walter

Off ... Sonny Bill will not play for the All Blacks in the upcoming Bledisloe Cup clashes with the Wallabies or in the Rugby Championship, which replaces the Tri Nations.

Off ... Sonny Bill will not play for the All Blacks in the upcoming Bledisloe Cup clashes with the Wallabies or in the Rugby Championship, which replaces the Tri Nations. Photo: Getty Images

SONNY BILL WILLIAMS will announce today that he has played his last Test for the All Blacks unless he returns to New Zealand rugby union after an expected stint with Sydney Roosters.

Williams, who has signed a lucrative deal with Japanese rugby powerhouse Panasonic Wild Knights understood to be worth more than $1.2 million for 12 games, has advised the NZRU that he will not return to the country to play next season.

The 26-year-old dual international, whose five-year ban from the NRL after walking out on the Bulldogs in 2008 will have expired, will leave New Zealand as soon as his commitments with the Chiefs are over next month.

As a result, he will not play for the All Blacks in the upcoming Bledisloe Cup clashes with the Wallabies or in the Rugby Championship, which replaces the Tri Nations.

However, Williams will not make any announcement on his anticipated move to the Roosters, and the Herald understands he is yet to finalise a deal with the NRL club for next season.

Should he do so, Williams will be free to join the club in January when Japan's Top League season ends.

Like the Roosters, Panasonic are prepared to allow Williams to box while under contract, and the New Zealand heavyweight champion is expected to have a fight in November, possibly in South Africa.

Wild Knights general manager Hitoshi Iijima told the Herald in April that the offer to Williams was the biggest Panasonic had made for any player, surpassing the $US1.1 million South African centre Jaque Fourie was paid last season.

Iijima said the signing of Williams would help to promote the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.

Williams will hold a press conference at 9.45am today in Hamilton. It will be attended by Chiefs coaches Dave Rennie and Wayne Smith and All Blacks assistant Ian Foster.

After starring in the All Blacks' record 60-0 defeat of Ireland, Williams has been hailed as a rugby superstar, and NZRU officials are keen for him to return for the 2015 World Cup.

Toulon owner Mourad Boudjellal has also recently expressed interest in luring Williams back to France's Top 14 competition, and he has attracted interest from South Africa.

However, Williams has been in talks with the Roosters since late last year, and was photographed by The Sun-Herald on New Years Eve at a meeting with club boss Nick Politis and Channel Nine chief executive David Gyngell.

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Round 1
Sat, 07 JunTimes shown AEST
SAM 18 vs TGA 18 Report Stats
FJI 25 vs ITA 14 Report Stats
NZL 20 vs ENG 15 Report Stats
AUS 50 vs FRA 23 Report Stats
Sun, 08 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 47 vs WXV 13 Report Stats
ARG 17 vs IRE 29 Report Stats
USA 6 vs SCO 24 Report Stats
CAN 25 vs JPN 34 Report Stats
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Round 2
Sat, 14 JunTimes shown AEST
SAM 15 vs ITA Report Stats
FJI 45 vs TGA 17 Report Stats
NZL 28 vs ENG 27 Report Stats
AUS 6 vs FRA Report Stats
Sun, 15 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 38 vs WAL 16 Report Stats
CAN 17 vs SCO 19 Report Stats
ARG 17 vs IRE 23 Report Stats
USA 29 vs JPN 37 Report Stats
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Round 3
Sat, 21 JunTimes shown AEST
ARG 19 vs SCO 21 Report Stats
FJI 13 vs SAM 18 Report Stats
JPN 26 vs ITA 23 Report Stats
AUS 39 vs FRA 13 Stats
NZL 36 vs ENG 13 Report Stats
Sun, 22 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 31 vs WAL 30 Report Stats
USA 38 vs CAN 35 Report Stats
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Round 4
Sun, 29 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 55 vs SCO 6 Report Stats
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Round 5
Sun, 02 NovTimes shown AEDT
BAR 36 vs AUS 40 Report Stats
USA 6 vs NZL 74 Report Stats
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Round 6
Sun, 09 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA 24 vs SAM 13 Report Stats
ENG 21 vs NZL 24 Report Stats
WAL 28 vs AUS 33 Report Stats
FRA 40 vs FJI 14 Report Stats
IRE 29 vs RSA 15 Report Stats
SCO 41 vs ARG 31 Report Stats
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Round 7
Sun, 16 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA 18 vs ARG 20 Report Stats
ENG 28 vs RSA 31 Report Stats
WAL 17 vs FJI 13 Report Stats
SCO 16 vs NZL 24 Report Stats
FRA 29 vs AUS 26 Report Stats
Mon, 17 NovTimes shown AEDT
IRE 49 vs GEO 7 Report Stats
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Round 8
Sun, 23 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA 6 vs RSA 22 Report Stats
SCO 37 vs TGA 12 Report Stats
IRE 26 vs AUS 23 Report Stats
WAL 16 vs NZL 34 Report Stats
ENG 28 vs SAM 9 Report Stats
FRA 13 vs ARG 18 Report Stats
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Round 9
Sun, 30 NovTimes shown AEDT
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WAL vs RSA 01:30MilS
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