He's the darling of female rugby fans, and following Sonny Bill Williams' waist-up strip at the Rugby World Cup opening match, he proved why. Like many Kiwi women, we wanted to know more about the sizzling hot athlete who has captured our attention.
Not wanting to disappoint females everywhere, New Idea presents The Sonny Bill Files – 20 fascinating facts about this muscle-bound hottie.
1. The 26-year-old athlete is Googled by Kiwis more than any other All Black since the Rugby World Cup kicked off. In fact, the star player has been searched three times more than his captain, Richie McCaw, and fellow hunk Dan Carter. And, in the past 12 months, he has outranked all his fellow teammates on the search engine.
2. Born on August 3, 1985, Sonny Bill shares his birthday with homemaker and former jailbird Martha Stewart, actor Martin Sheen, actress Evangeline Lilly and the daughter of Princess Caroline of Monaco, Charlotte Casiraghi.
3. The buff 1.91m sporting idol dated New Zealander Genna Shaw, 27 – who he reportedly met at school – on and off until his return to Auckland halfway through last year. Top touch rugby player 21-year-old Cantabrian Aleisha Berryman captured his heart a year ago, but has only recently been revealed as the lucky woman dating the player. Days after the revelation a Facebook site – 'I wish I was Aleisha Berryman' – was launched.
4. First Muhammad Ali, then Mike Tyson, now Sonny Bill. This year the multi-talented athlete – who is also a professional boxer – announced he was converting to Islam, the first All Black to do so. The convert says he's read famed African American Muslim Malcolm X's autobiography four times. 'I'll recommend it to anybody,' Sonny Bill has said. 'There are a lot of life traits in there.' Sonny Bill adhered to Ramadan this year, not eating or drinking water between sunrise and sunset during August.
5. The 108kg centre player reportedly prefers to spend his evenings reading books before heading to bed early.
6. Sonny Bill grew up in the Auckland city fringe suburb of Mount Albert with his parents John and Lee (who are now separated) and three younger siblings – brother John Arthur and twin sisters Niall and Denise. John Arthur plays rugby for an Auckland club and Niall is a New Zealand international touch player. John is of Samoan heritage and Lee is a Kiwi.
7. As a boy, the sportsman's parents couldn't afford to buy him a replica All Blacks jersey. But, in 2005, All Black Tana Umaga gifted him the shirt he wore in his 74th and final test against Scotland in 2005. That gesture provided Sonny Bill with the motivation to don the shirt for himself. 'Just getting that jersey gave me butterflies. Hopefully one day I can put on the real thing,' he said at the time. In 2010, Sonny Bill's childhood dream of becoming a team member became a reality.
8. Sonny attended Auckland's Owairaka Primary School, where talent scout John Ackland first noticed his sporting prowess. He went on to Wesley Intermediate and Mount Albert Grammar. At 16, the Australian NRL league team Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs signed him.
9. The hunk's sleeve tattoo down his right arm represents his Samoan heritage. His newest addition is a traditional Samoan piece located at the back of his right calf. Sonny Bill also has 'Williams' tattooed across the back of his shoulders.
10. Fan and teammates were outraged when Sonny Bill secretly left the NRL team Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs for rugby union, joining Toulon in 2008. He nearly lost his $1.6 million house for contempt of court after breaking his five-year contract with the Bulldogs.
12. The self-confessed mama's boy admitted he returned to New Zealand to be closer to family and he credits his mum for introducing him to the game. 'It was my mum that got me into footy. She took me along to play when I was eight years old and I loved it,' he once said.
13. Despite being offered a $6 million three-year contract from French club Toulon, Sonny Bill was determined to live his All Black dreams, signing with the New Zealand Rugby Union for $550,000 a year. At the conclusion of the RWC, Sonny Bill is weighing up his options whether to stay in the country. Lee wants him to play for the Auckland Blues.
14. The player's auctioning off his treasured ripped All Blacks shirt following the RWC kick-off match between Tonga and New Zealand to raise money for the Violet Foundation, which promotes meningococcal awareness. Sonny Bill never suffered from the disease, nor does he have a personal connection with someone who does, but simply joined when his Australian league pal Keith Galloway introduced him to the president of the foundation.
15. During the February 22 Christchurch earthquake, Sonny Bill was at the city's central swimming pool for a recovery session. When the building started shaking, Sonny Bill found himself 'looking up at the ceiling thinking the whole place was about to come down'. Fleeing outside, he saw one of the town's main buildings collapse. For a terrifying few hours he couldn't contact his younger sister Denise, who was studying nearby. He described the feeling as 'just sickening'.
16. His father and maternal grandfather, William (Bill) Woolsey were accomplished league players. Bill is touted as one of the toughesßt Kiwi league players in history. He once suffered a head wound that required 30 stitches. When a reserve ran on to replace him, legend has it Woolsey grabbed him by the jumper and marched him from the field.
17. Sonny Bill's full name is Sonny William Williams, his middle name from his famous grandfather William (Bill) Woolsey.
18. Kiwi export and Oscar-winner Russell Crowe has signalled his interest in signing Sonny Bill for his league team, the South Sydney Rabbitohs, following the RWC.
19. Sonny Bill's been caught up in all manner of controversy since coming to the sporting fore. From his admission of a drink problem after being caught urinating in an alleyway, to his infamous tryst in a Sydney loo with Aussie 'iron woman' and triathlete Candice Falzon.
20. After his first game with the Kiwi league team, 19-year-old Sonny Bill reportedly went round the dressing room asking for autographs. Cute!