Dual international Sonny Bill Williams could make his return to New Zealand rugby as early as this weekend with provincial team Counties Manukau rolling out the welcome rug.
The 29-year-old finished his second stint in Australia's National Rugby League on Friday when the Sydney Roosters bowed out of the semi-finals and said he was keen to get back into the All Blacks' set-up.
New Zealand media have reported that Williams is in line to join Counties for their National Provincial Championship match against Southland in Invercargill on Saturday.
Counties coach and former All Blacks captain Tana Umaga declined to confirm, other than to say was waiting by the phone.
“As has always been the case, it is just a wait and see and wait until we are contacted,” he told Fairfax Media. “Knowing Sonny and the man he is, he would want to do it the right way. He likes to gain the respect of people, I wouldn’t be surprised if I got a call at some stage to say he might be coming over, well, I am hoping.”
Williams has signed a two-year deal with the New Zealand Rugby Union and Waikato Chiefs from 2015, but the NZRU are keen to get him back in a black jersey quickly and last month approved an exemption under their eligibility rules to allow him to be selected for the All Blacks' season-ending tour to the United States and Britain.