Former sevens star, turned NRLW converts Niall Williams-Guthrie has crossed codes again to join the Blues for next year's Super Rugby Aupiki.
The sister of rugby-league legend Sonny Bill Williams retired from the national sevens programme this year, after a career that saw her win Commonwealth Games gold and bronze, and Olympic silver, but miss the Tokyo Olympic gold-medal campaign with a neck injury.
Williams-Guthrie switched to rugby league for a two-year contract with Gold Coast Titans in the Australian women's competition, but will return to the 15-player format for the expanded NZ women's season in 2024.
"Sonny jokes around, saying I'm trying to copy him and follow him round," she said. "In all seriousness, he's been a pioneer in putting himself in uncomfortable positions and testing himself.
"I admire him for that and I've tried to do the same - when it's uncomfortable, it often leads to something rewarding and exciting."
In her first foray into league, Williams-Guthrie, 35, helped Gold Coast to the NRLW Grand Final, where they fell to defending champions Newcastle Knights, but her stint with the Blues will also mark her debut in women's Super Rugby.
"Anyone that knows me knows I'm a massive fan of this city and the Blues region," she said. "I'm an Aucklander and I can't wait to represent this place with pride and passion.
"I haven't played a lot of 15s, but I’m here to learn and give where I can. I'm not trying to come in and be the next big thing, but I think I can offer some experience and perspectives from my time with the sevens.
"I've taken on the 'Muma Bear' role in recent years, although I prefer 'Big Sis'... surely I can still get away with that?"
The Blues squad are built on the Auckland Storm side that captured the 2023 Farah Palmer Cup crown, but coach Willie Walker hopes Williams-Guthrie experience will rub off on her younger teammates.
"Niall's had a long and successful career in rugby, so having her as part of our Blues set-up is going to be hugely beneficial, not only on the park, but also as an example to the younger players and showing them what professionalism looks like day-to-day," said Walker.
Williams-Guthrie joins former Black Ferns Sevens teammate Ruby Tui, who has seemingly turned her back on the condensed format to chase newly created opportunities in Super Rugby with Chiefs Manawa.2023-11-19T22:23:27Z dg43tfdfdgfd