Sonny Bill included in All Black sevens squad

All Black Rugby star Sonny Bill Williams will switch to sevens rugby next year
in pursuit of Olympics Gold after being named in the initial New Zealand sevens
training squad for 2016.

The serial code-hopper has shifted between rival rugby codes, league and union,
in recent years as well as dabbling in boxing, where he has won all seven 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 Williams said he rated becoming an Olympian as the greatest feat an athlete
could achieve and said he would not play Super rugby next year as he would focus
fully on getting to Rio.

“Going back in time the best sportsmen ever have been Olympians. (Usain)
Bolt, (Muhammad) Ali, the list goes on. It’s just an amazing opportunity to
become one of those,” he said.

“As a rugby player you strive to be an All Black, win a World Cup, win
a Super Rugby title and as a league player, for myself you strived to win a
comp. I’m lucky enough to have achieved that, but as a sportsman, most would
like to go to the Olympics and I haven’t achieved that.”

New Zealand sevens coach Gordon Tietjens believes Williams will adjust easily
to the faster 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.”

Liam Messam, a former sevens star, is the only other current All Black in the
16-man sevens squad after Ben Smith and Beauden Barrett decided to remain focused
on the longer version of the game.

Prominent Super rugby players Akira Ioane, Ben Lam and Ardie Savea are also
in the squad in which Scott Curry was named as captain after long-serving leader
DJ Forbes stepped down from the role to focus on his play.

The 2016 IRB World Sevens series begins in Dubai in December.

New Zealand sevens 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.

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