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Sonny Bill Williams to remain in New Zealand

Updated: October 30, 2011, 23:23


WELLINGTON, New Zealand(AP) All Blacks utility back Sonny Bill Williams has signed a one-year contract with the New Zealand Rugby Union and will play for the Waikato Chiefs in next year's Super 15 tournament.

The 26-year-old rugby league convert left New Zealand on Monday to holiday in Panama after being part of the World Cup-winning All Blacks team, apparently with his future unresolved.

The NZRU had given Williams until Monday evening to decide whether he would renew his contract which expired at the end of the World Cup.

Williams had been silent on his plans, although he tweeted on Monday that "Hamilton looks nice'' in a reference to the Chiefs' North Island base.

He played in the centers and on the wing for the All Blacks during the World Cup, when his proven versatility earned him a place on the reserves bench for the Oct. 23 final against France - New Zealand's most important match in decades.

"We're delighted that Sonny has chosen to continue playing his rugby in New Zealand next year,'' NZRU general manager of professional rugby Neil Sorenson said. "He was exciting to watch in Super rugby this year and he played an important role in the spectacular Rugby World Cup-winning All Blacks side.''

Williams was a star player in Australia's National Rugby League before quitting in 2008 to play rugby union for the French club Toulon. He remained in France until signing to play for his native New Zealand in 2010, joining the Canterbury Crusaders.

In deciding on Monday to re-sign with New Zealand, Williams turned down potentially more lucrative offers from French rugby clubs and Australian rugby league teams.

His previous contract with the NZRU contained a clause which allowed him to continue to develop his career as a professional boxer.

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