Sonny Bill Williams believes winning a gold medal with the New Zealand Sevens team at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro would probably be his greatest achievement as a sportsman.
Williams has won back-to-back Rugby World Cups, Super Rugby and National Rugby League titles and New Zealand’s heavyweight boxing title but feels winning an Olympic gold would eclipse all that.
“I guess it’d have to surpass (everything else) because as an athlete there’s no higher level than the Olympics,” he told reporters in Rio ahead of the All Blacks Sevens’ campaign which starts on Tuesday.
“I’m just fortunate enough that Tietj (New Zealand Sevens coach, Gordon Tietjens) gave me a shot at the start of the year and I’ve been fortunate enough to learn off these boys in the team and train my butt off.
“Now I’m here, myself and the rest of the boys just want to be successful and if you ask me after the tournament and we do well, I’ll be able to answer that question.”
The 31-year-old has made a successful transition to the shorter version of the game after making his debut for his country at the Wellington leg of World Rugby’s Sevens Series in January.
He was asked about Jarryd Hayne’s failed bid to make Fiji’s squad for the Olympics and said his fellow code hopper didn’t have enough time to overcome Sevens’ steep learning curve.
“I think for myself coming in this year, I always knew it was going to be tough but it was really hard,” added Williams.
“It’s a totally different game to 15s and Hayne just needed time.
“As you see, there been a lot of 15s players trying to make the sevens this year and a lot of them haven’t made it because it’s just a totally different game.
“I’m just thankful that I sat down with (Tietjens) at the start of the year and we sussed out a plan to put myself forward all year to try and crack it.
“I just trying to make a good impression in the Sevens now and really looking forward to this week.”