New Zealand Rugby has today paid tribute to All Blacks lock Ali Williams, who has announced his retirement from international rugby.
32-year-old Williams retires from the All Blacks as the second most capped lock of all time, playing 77 Tests in a career which spanned a decade from 2002 to 2012.
Williams made the announcement this morning to the 29,600 followers on his Twitter account (@AliWilliams): “Guys, I just want to let you know first that I’m retiring from international rugby. I’m hanging up the black jersey. It’s been an amazing 10 years but it’s time to call it quits. But I’m not hanging up the boots yet.”
Williams will continue to play for the Blues.
All Blacks Head Coach Steve Hansen congratulated Williams on his career in the All Blacks and said he respected Williams’ decision to retire and go out on his terms.
“By retiring he is doing what’s best for the All Blacks and showing a tremendous amount of integrity by putting the team ahead of himself. He knew he may have been selected for the All Blacks again this year, but he also knows that it is better for the team to have a younger player in the position.
“Ali has been a fantastic All Black. He is a player who has always worn his heart on his sleeve, he is a real character who loved being an All Black and wearing the jersey proudly and representing his country, and that’s what we love about him.
“He would have played a lot more games for the team if injuries hadn’t robbed him of the opportunity. But it took a lot of courage to come back to top-flight rugby and that is a measure of the man and shows just how much he loves the game.”
Blues Head Coach Sir John Kirwan said: ìI’m incredibly proud of Ali; it must have been a very difficult decision for him to make. A lot of players at his stage in their career are looking to go overseas, but he really wants to commit to the Blues and stay here and help this young side grow and achieve their goals, which is fantastic.
“He’s been a great All Black and I’m looking forward to him being fully committed and focussed on the Blues and enjoying himself.”
New Zealand Rugby CEO Steve Tew added: “Ali has been one of the great servants of New Zealand rugby and, on behalf of New Zealand Rugby, we congratulate him on his All Blacks career. He still has a lot to offer the game here, is obviously making an outstanding contribution to the Blues and wants to continue doing that which is great for New Zealand rugby.”