'You never know': SBW refuses to rule out move into coaching
Former All Blacks star Sonny Bill Williams says that while he doesn’t see himself becoming a professional rugby coach any time soon, he hasn’t ruled that out becoming a prospect further down the line.
Speaking to ex-All Blacks teammate Israel Dagg and former Black Caps captain Brendon McCullum on SENZ, Williams discussed his transition into a post-playing career after he hung up the boots earlier this year.
In doing so, he brought down the curtain on a glittering career in both rugby union and rugby league, where he won two Rugby World Cups, two NRL Premierships, one Super Rugby title, played at the 2016 Rio Olympics, played in 58 All Blacks tests and won 12 Kiwis test caps.
The 36-year-old’s last appearance as a professional footballer came during last year’s NRL, where he turned out for the Sydney Roosters on a loan deal after having previously signed a two-year, $10m deal with the now-defunct Toronto Wolfpack.
Since retiring, Williams has moved into the media realm as a rugby league and rugby union pundit on Channel Nine and Stan Sport in Australia.
He is also aiming to resurrect his professional boxing career and has helped mentor young players at the Roosters this year, but the former dual-code sensation told SENZ that he isn’t looking to move into professional coaching – not yet, at least.
“You never want to close any doors,” Williams told Dagg, who he played alongside at the All Blacks and Crusaders between 2010 and 2017, and McCullum.
“Being a sportsman for close to 20 years, it’s always close to my heart and it’s something that you just get used to doing, so to speak.
“I’m a big believer in not hoarding any type of that experience, especially with the younger fellas, helping them out with what works for you and what didn’t, but, at the same time, I’ve got a young family and I love being at home with my kids.
“To be honest, the coaching gig is a full-on lifestyle. We as players, we play the game but then, as soon as the game is finished, we’ll leave and go back home to our families.
“Coaches, they play the game, but then they’re back home, they’re doing the video analysis, all of that type of stuff, breaking down next week, so it’s a full-on gig.”
Although he acknowledged that family commitments with his wife and four children present too big of a hurdle to allow him to jump into coaching at this point in time, Williams didn’t rule out the prospect of becoming a coach in the future.
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“Maybe I wouldn’t mind one if the kids get a little bit older, helping out in some capacity.
“But, at the moment, I just help out a few guys here and there in regards to getting things sorted off the field and getting them prepared and help them get the best of themselves to be able to perform on the field.
“At this stage, probably not, but you never know in the future.”
Williams’ comments come three months after former NRL star Matty Johns revealed he and his brother, ex-rugby league great Andrew, were looking into the possibility of coaching the Samoan rugby league team alongside Williams.
The older Johns brother said he, Andrew and Williams would Toa Samoa for free after their current head coach, Matt Parish, came under pressure from the playing group to keep his job ahead of this year’s Rugby League World Cup.
“They’ve got a head coach at the moment there. But I spoke to Joey (Andrew) again about it today, and yeah (we are serious), definitely,” Johns said on Sunday Night with Matty Johns in May.
“We’ve got full-time jobs so I don’t know how it would work out, and Joey has been talking to Sonny Bill Williams as well.
“We would do it for nothing. Quite seriously, and Joey is the same, you wouldn’t take a cent. Sonny wouldn’t.
“It would be a bit of three-way coaching. I don’t know how it would work, but in my opinion Samoa should be emulating what Tonga are doing.
“There should be a goal that within a couple of years Samoa should be beating Australia, like Tonga have been doing.
“I want to be respectful because they do have a coach, but if something happens then Joey [Andrew] and I are available.”
However, Samoan rugby league bosses have held firm in their support of Parish, keeping the Australian coach at the helm of Toa Samoa as they continue preparations for the Rugby League World Cup, which kicks-off in the United Kingdom in October.
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