The Auckland-based Blues have won the race for Sonny Bill Williams’ signature with the 30-year-old dual international shifting north from the Chiefs after agreeing a new deal with New Zealand Rugby.
The centre, who is missing this season of Super Rugby and international rugby in a bid for gold at the Rio Olympics with the All Blacks Sevens, has signed a three-year deal.
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen said the retention of Williams would help the side rebuild their midfield after the departure of veterans Ma’a Nonu and Conrad Smith.
“Sonny’s professionalism, both on and off the field, will not only be an asset to his fellow midfielders, but also the rest of the team,” Hansen said.
Blues coach Tana Umaga said the signing would have a significant influence on the franchise on and off the field.
“Sonny is a marquee international player, and first and foremost he is here to play. His experience and expertise will be a major asset to a young backline,” he said.
“Off the field he brings leadership and a thoroughly professional attitude and approach that will hugely benefit our club and our players.”
Williams, whose mother lives in Auckland, played for the Crusaders in 2011 and Chiefs in 2012 before playing two seasons in the NRL with the Sydney Roosters.
He played for the Chiefs last year and helped the All Blacks lift the World Cup before turning his attention to winning a place in Gordon Tietjens’ side to chase Olympic gold.
The new deal commits Williams to the All Blacks and the Blues through to the 2019 Rugby World Cup.