Sonny Bill Williams' $10m league deal thrown into question

Australian Associated Press
·2-min read
Seen here, Toronto Wolf Pack star Sonny Bill Williams.
Sonny Bill Williams' mega deal is in jeopardy after Toronto's decision. Pic: Getty

Toronto Wolfpack have made the shock decision to withdraw from the remainder of the Super League season, casting doubts over the future of the club and star signing Sonny Bill Williams.

Rugby League's only North American team made headlines around the world late last year when they signed the All Blacks legend on a deal worth a reported $10 million.

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On Monday Toronto said the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic has led to them to pull the pin on the season.

"This decision has not been taken lightly, and in consideration of a range of factors specific to the club as the only transatlantic team in the league," a Wolfpack statement read.

"The COVID pandemic has presented unexpected and overwhelming financial challenges to the Wolfpack organisation."

Even with All Blacks great Williams in their side, Toronto were winless in their first six matches of their debut season and in danger of being relegated.

The League's decision to scrap promotion and relegation for the season would have spared that fate but Toronto's decision casts doubt over whether Williams will stay with the club or not.

The news was met with anger from Super League officials with the campaign due to restart on August 2.

"Super League and the RFL are very disappointed to learn that Toronto Wolfpack will not be able to fulfil their obligations to Super League 2020," a statement read.

Pictured here, Sonny Bill Williams playing for Toronto in the English Super League.
Williams in action for the Toronto Wolf Pack. Pic: Getty

Toronto backflip on decision to continue season

"Super League Europe and The RFL have been in regular dialogue with the Wolfpack over the past weeks and months regarding the club's ability to take part in the competition and firm assurances had been received as recently as last Thursday, 16 July.

"Our immediate focus is on getting the season back underway on August 2... A discussion around the longer term consequences and the future of the Wolfpack in Super League will commence shortly."

In announcing the abolition of relegation from the top-flight, the RFL confirmed that this year's lower leagues would not resume.

"There will be no relegation from the 11-team Betfred Super League in 2020 - for reasons of integrity, player welfare and also to protect the solvency of clubs," a statement from the RFL said.

Reports last week claimed players had not been paid by the club, which is bankrolled by Australian mining magnate David Argyle, but they have insisted that all wages will be guaranteed.

"Player and staff payroll, an issue of recent media attention, has been guaranteed by Wolfpack majority owner David Argyle and is secured by a personal guarantee to the RFL," the club statement said.