"I know where I'm playing next year and I'm ready to meet the challenge head-on" ... Sonny Bill Williams on his committment to play at the Roosters next season. Photo: Getty Images
RETURNING boss Brian Canavan believes the under-achieving Sydney Roosters are finals-bound next year - with or without Sonny Bill Williams.
Canavan, back as chief operating officer at the Roosters after quitting the club in 2008 following 15 years of previous service, says Williams would be a welcome addition to rugby league - but claims he doesn't know if the dual international will be at his club next season.
''Because I haven't stepped into the finances, salary cap or player list world at this stage,'' Canavan said yesterday. ''Today's my first meeting with the staff list.''
But asked if Williams was someone he was interested in having at the Roosters, Canavan said: ''The game's personally interested in him. He's a wonderful player and rugby league would love to have him back.''
He said any baggage Williams might bring would be ''pretty good baggage''.
''You're referring to the five years ago baggage - we're all different after five years,'' he said. ''None of us were inside the Canterbury club at that time so I don't know what transpired there.''
Williams the part-time boxer is currently focusing on his fight next month with South African heavyweight Francois Botha, but the World Cup-winning All Black said his move to the tricolours was a fait accompli after making a handshake agreement with Roosters chairman Nick Politis.
''It's a done deal. I made it a long time ago,'' the 27-year-old told The Sun-Herald last weekend.
''I know where I'm playing next year and I'm ready to meet the challenge head-on.''
Canavan was also coy about the prospect of Williams's stablemate, disenchanted Wallabies five-eighth Quade Cooper, running out for the Roosters. ''His name hasn't been mentioned but the player list hasn't really been in my discussions,'' he said.
Regardless of the playing roster, Canavan is confident the Roosters will bounce back in a big way after missing the finals for the past two years and finishing a lowly 13th this season.
''It [the club] played in the 2010 grand final. There is success in the walls of the club,'' he said.
''We've just got to take a bit of paint off and re-do this and re-do that. It dropped a number of games last year by a few points and, as a result, it needs a bit of tweaking a bit of freshness, and I can see the club climbing the ladder very, very quickly - and very steeply too.''
The club has undergone quite the cleanout, with chief executive Steve Noyce sacked on Monday for Canavan after long-time skipper Braith Anasta - off to Wests Tigers - and coach Brian Smith also parted ways with the Roosters.
Canavan, though, insists he's neither feeling the pressure to deliver or that the Roosters were a revolving door for players, coaches and administrators.
''I don't see it that way,'' he said. ''I was here for 15 years … three quarters of the staff have been here for many, many years.''