The Big Name
Sonny Bill Williams told his teammates at half-time that he would turn his performance around. True to his word, he did so, producing two of the key plays in the Roosters' comeback victory over Manly after a disappointing first half.
''I did a bit of study, of Manly, and their left-side defence - they like to get up a lot, with Steve Matai and Kieran Foran,'' Williams said after the 26-18 win. ''I was trying to punch holes around them, play around them. It didn't come off.
''I said to the boys that I'm going to wipe that first half, and I'm going to go out and play for them. I'd expect the same from the boys. I didn't want to go back on my word. I just went out there and tried to run as hard as I could. I wasn't playing direct [in the first half]. I tried to go around them.
"I said to the boys that I'm going to wipe that first half, and I'm going to go out and play for them": Roosters star Sonny Bill Williams. Photo: Wolter Peeters
''But in the second half, I'm proud to say that I stood up in the tough times. When the game was on the line … I'm my harshest critic, and I just tried to step up. I'm grateful to be in such a talented side.'' Second-half tries to Shaun Kenny-Dowall and Michael Jennings were set up by an offload and a bust by Williams, who won his second premiership, having tasted success with the Bulldogs in 2004.
''I didn't cry, but it was the first time I've come close to crying,'' Williams said. ''I'm just happy. I've been blessed to be in a few good teams over the years, and this is no different. I'm just happy to do it with this group of young men.'' Williams was clearly in a mood to savour the moment. He said he would decide on his future - the subject of so much speculation of late - in the next couple of weeks.
''The last month, I just asked the club if I could not do any media and just concentrate on my thing, that's winning this competition, or doing my part'' Williams said. ''I went into my shell, changed my number, went off social media and just dedicated myself to the cause, that we were trying to achieve.
2013 NRL Grand Final
All the action from the 2013 NRL Grand Final between the Manly Sea Eagles and Sydney Roosters at ANZ Stadium. Like these photos? Go to fairfaxsyndication.com. Follow us at http://twitter.com/photosSMH. Photo: Jonathan Carroll
''It's just so sweet looking down on this [the premiership ring]. It's a dream come true.''