Sonny Bill Williams has confirmed a switch to sevensrugby and the Olympics as his next sporting target after being confirmed Wednesday in the initial New Zealand sevens training squad for 2016.
The serial code-hopper has shifted between rivalrugby codes league and union in recent years as well as dabbling in boxing, where he has won all six of his heavyweight bouts.
The 30-year-old is currently with the All Blacks and in line to make their squad for the World Cup, starting in England next month, after being part of the world championship-winning side four years ago.
But New Zealand sevens coach Gordon Tietjens confirmed Williams will next switch to the shorter format as rugby returns to the Olympic programme in Rio de Janeiro next year.
Liam Messam, a former sevens star, is the only other current All Black in the Olympic squad after Ben Smith and Beauden Barrett decided to remain focused on the longer version of the game.
“Sonny Bill Williams is a great athlete and has shown he can adapt very easily to the demands of rugby. I see him adjusting very well to the fast pace of sevens,” Tietjens said.
“He’ll be a great attacking weapon with his speed, strength and uncanny ability to offload.”
Tietjens’ 16-man sevens squad also includes prominent Super rugby players Akira Ioane, Ben Lam and Ardie Savea.
Scott Curry was named as captain after long-serving leader DJ Forbes stepped down from the role to focus on his play.
New Zealand squad:
Dylan Collier, Scott Curry (captain), Sam Dickson, DJ Forbes, Gillies Kaka, Akira Ioane, Rieko Ioane, Ben Lam, Liam Messam, Tim Mikkelson, Ardie Savea, Sherwin Stowers, Sam Vaka, Beaudein Waaka, Joe Webber, Sonny Bill Williams.
– Agence France-Presse