Auckland - Sonny Bill Williams, who is one of the most popular foreign-based players to play in South Africa over the past decade, is expected to leave New Zealand rugby after this year.
Williams has hordes of fans, a whole host of whom can also be found in Cape Town, where the highly-regarded All Blacks star has always been warmly welcomed when playing in South Africa.
The 33-year-old recently provided his strongest hint that this could be his last year playing for the Blues and All Blacks, with the versatile back's current contract with New Zealand Rugby set to run until the end of the 2019 World Cup.
Over the last couple of years, Williams' career has been stunted by injury, and it now appears that he will not sign an extension beyond this year.
Williams started out his career in rugby league, playing for the Canterbury Bulldogs from 2004 to 2008, before making a highly-anticipated move to rugby union, where he quickly established himself as one of the most influential New Zealand players.
Despite impressing for both the Crusaders and Chiefs on his way to becoming an All Black, Williams agreed to a one-year deal with the Sydney Roosters for the 2013 NRL season.
He then shifted his focus back to Super Rugby and the All Blacks, while he also featured for the New Zealand Sevens side at the 2016 Olympics.
Williams is now a key member of the Blues team in Super Rugby, while he is regarded as a first-choice player for the All Blacks.
However, it seems that he could be ready to bid farewell to New Zealand rugby after this year
“For the last two years I've been so methodical with my planning and preparation,' he told the New Zealand Herald. 'But the last two years have been so injury-ravaged I've come to understand that I have a plan, but that God is the best planner.”
“I want the boys to be successful, but it could be [my last year].” - Nampa/ANA