Sonny Bill Williams on cusp of unthinkable NRL return

Andrew Reid
·4-min read
Seen here, Sonny Bill Williams holds the trophy after the Roosters' 2013 grand final win.
Sonny Bill Williams is weighing up a sensational return to the Roosters. Pic: Getty

When the Toronto Wolf Pack this week announced that they were leaving the English Super League, it was only a matter of time before teams began lining up to sign their biggest superstar, Sonny Bill Williams.

The All Blacks legend has been allowed to pursue an NRL contract following Toronto's withdrawal from the Super League competition, due to financial constraints relating to the coronavirus pandemic.

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It has now emerged that the Kiwi star could be set for a sensational return to two-time reigning premiers, the Roosters, with whom he tasted grand final success with in 2013.

The Roosters are believed to be in the box seat to snare Williams after speculation the 34-year-old was considering playing their final four games of 2020 following meetings between his agent and club supremo Nick Politis.

"The idea of playing in the NRL has real appeal to me, and I wouldn't go down that road without speaking to Nick Politis first," Williams told Nine News.

The Rugby World Cup winner, who turns 35 on the August 3 deadline for NRL clubs to finalise their rosters, would have to quarantine for 14 days upon arriving in Australia, leaving him with four games plus a finals campaign for the defending premiers.

It's understood the Roosters have around $300,000 of salary cap space available for Williams, who is also guaranteed 55 percent of his $5 million salary from the Toronto Wolfpack.

Complicated matters, however, are reports Williams would need to give up his contract with Toronto before the NRL would allow his registration.

The Roosters are expecting a decision from the 58-Test All Blacks legend by the end of the week.

Pictured here, Sonny Bill Williams is about to catch the ball during a game for Toronto.
Williams in action for the Toronto Wolf Pack. Pic: Getty

Roosters players excited about possible reunion

Tri-Colours captain Boyd Cordner was coy when asked about the Roosters' chances of luring Williams, but said he would be welcomed back at the club in a heartbeat.

"If he does come to the Roosters we are going to welcome him with open arms," Cordner said of Williams who last played NRL in 2014 with the Tri-Colours.

"I know when he first came to the club in 2013 how much of an impact he had on the playing group - I am pretty sure he will have that same impact.

"He's a freak. I have always looked up to Sonny ever since I was a kid. He was my idol."

Roosters veteran Mitchell Aubusson kept his fingers crossed Williams would be back, saying his impact was still being felt at the club six years after his last game.

"The way he prepares is like something I have never seen. He could probably play until he's 40," he said.

"We still use today some of the stuff that he brought in.

"His preparation, his diet - all the things that we take for granted (now) are what he picked up and took to a new level."

It's understood the Roosters may also consider making Williams part of their coaching staff in 2021 if his lucrative Toronto deal isn't honoured.

The Warriors have also confirmed their interest but St George Illawarra officially pulled out on Wednesday despite a report they were considering using salary cap dispensation for Jack de Belin to snare Williams.

"We've made an overture ... but we haven't heard anything in response yet," Warriors interim coach Todd Payten said.

Wests Tigers coach Michael Maguire ruled his club out before wondering how many rivals could fit Williams under their salary cap this year.

"It would be nice to see him come back," he said.

"(But) I'm not sure there would be many teams in a position to get a player of that quality into their salary cap."

with AAP