Huge drawcard ... Sonny Bill Williams. Photo: Brendan Esposito
Sonny Bill Williams's absence in Saturday night's Foundation Cup is expected to reduce the crowd by a third, but Sydney Roosters officials still hope to cash in on his return before the NRL season starts.
The Roosters are advertising a ''unique sponsorship opportunity'' for businesses to have their name associated with the 27-year-old superstar in matches for the club.
Roosters chief operating officer Ted Hellier said individual player sponsorships usually started at $12,500 but the club was asking a premium price for Williams and seeking expressions of interest.
''Of course, Sonny comes at a premium,'' Hellier said. ''He is one of the biggest sports stars in Australasia so why wouldn't you pay to be associated with him.''
In the promotions for the sponsorship, the Roosters describe Williams as ''one of the most talked about sportsmen in the world''.
''A heavyweight boxing champion, rugby World Cup winner and NRL premiership winner in 2004, Sonny Bill Williams is undoubtedly one of the most successful athletes in the modern era … and he's now a Rooster too,'' the advertisement on the club's website says.
Included among the range of benefits for the company that successfully bids to become the exclusive player sponsor for Williams this season is four tickets in the Easts Club for the round-six match against Canterbury. ''That is a big selling point for Sonny - that first match against the Bulldogs,'' Hellier said of the clash with the club Williams controversially walked out on in 2008.
While the NRL announced that the Roosters would be fined an undisclosed amount over the negotiation of Williams's contract, the club isn't the only one using him to promote the new season. An advertisement to announce that Channel Nine's coverage of the NRL would begin on March 7 features Williams accompanied by the letters SBW: OMG.