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Williams gives NRL a $1m boost without raising a sweat

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Sonny Bill Williams signs with Roosters

Sonny Bill Williams announces that he will be signing a one-year deal with the Sydney Roosters to play NRL in the 2013 rugby league season.

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SONNY BILL WILLIAMS'S $550,000 contract with Sydney Roosters has already earned the NRL double that amount, with the New Zealand television rights now worth an extra $1 million.

While some within the game are unhappy about Williams's return after walking out on a five-year contract with Canterbury in 2008, the efforts of Roosters chairman Nick Politis to bring him back are set to benefit not only the Bondi club but the entire competition.

Bulldogs chief executive Todd Greenberg may have negotiated a clause prohibiting Williams from playing for a rival club before 2013, as well as a $750,000 release fee, but he wrote to the NRL in February when the 27-year-old superstar's return was just a rumour seeking to host the Roosters in round one.

No ties ... Sonny Bill Williams tries to find a suit to fit for his big day.

No ties ... Sonny Bill Williams tries to find a suit to fit for his big day. Photo: Brendan Esposito

The Bulldogs even offered to split the gate at ANZ Stadium with the Roosters, but Politis refused to move the match and is hoping for a full house at Allianz Stadium when this year's 13th-placed team kicks off the NRL season against South Sydney on March 7.

However, rival clubs will get their chance to cash in when they play home games against the Roosters - starting with the Warriors in round two. The Auckland-based club has already made arrangements to move the clash from Mt Smart Stadium to the 50,000 capacity Eden Park.

After being a member of the All Blacks' 2011 World Cup-winning team and developing this year into arguably the biggest star in world rugby, Williams is as big if not bigger in New Zealand than he is in Australia and his presence will boost NRL ratings across the Tasman.

Sonny Bill Williams in a cafe for breakfast prior to his press conference today,where he will be signing a one year deal with the Sydney Roosters to play NRL in the 2013 rugby league season. Click for more photos

Sonny Bill Williams Roosters

Sonny Bill Williams announcest his return to the NRL with Sydney Roosters for the 2013 season. Photo: Brendan Esposito

With the NRL still negotiating a New Zealand broadcast deal, Fairfax has been told that representatives of Sky TV have been asking for confirmation of Williams signing with the Roosters as his return increases the value of the rights by $1m.

However, Williams will only receive about half that amount from his contract with the Roosters, which runs from the time he begins his commitments with the club in February until October 31.

Before then, the New Zealand heavyweight boxing champion plans to fight South Africa's Francois Botha in Brisbane after being forced to postpone their November 24 bout due to surgery for a torn pectoral muscle. He has also not given up hope of finishing his commitments with Japanese rugby powerhouse Panasonic Wild Knights and out of respect to the franchise he did not wear any Roosters gear at Tuesday's press conference.

With his Wild Knights contract worth $1.2m for a 12-match stint, Williams bristles at suggestions he is returning to the NRL because of the new $1 billion television deal as French club Toulon offered him four times what the Roosters are paying the dual international.

In contrast, it is the NRL which will cash in on his return and possibly the international game, with Williams asked at Tuesday's press conference about his availability for the Kiwis in the end-of-season World Cup.

His profile in Britain, Ireland, France, South Africa and Japan, as well as Australia and New Zealand, would be a massive boost for the tournament but Williams's first priority is performing for the Roosters.

''This is going to be one of the biggest challenges of my career,'' Williams said of his comeback to a code he hasn't played for more than four years. ''A lot of people will be writing me off. Every time I step on that field there will probably be a target on me.''

Inevitably, Williams was asked about the way he departed the Bulldogs and whether he would offer another apology - having done so in an interview with Fairfax when he returned to Sydney in 2009 after his first season with Toulon. But after deciding before the press conference that he was only going to focus on his future with the Roosters, Williams palmed off the questions the way he has so many opponents.

''Today is about me signing with the Roosters and that's what I'm going to stick to,'' Williams said.

34 comments

  • "Show me the Money"

    Commenter
    FROG
    Location
    MANLY
    Date and time
    November 14, 2012, 9:41AM
    • $BW soon to be joined by I$$Y Falau. We were always told that nobody is bigger than the game, but obviously that is wrong.
      $BW seems to be bigger than anything. He can break contracts, he can box when he wants, he can play Rugby when he wants, he can tell his club who he will play against and who he wont, who is running this show?

      Commenter
      NRL "NO Direction"
      Date and time
      November 14, 2012, 10:02AM
    • Good for Sonny Bill. You gotta look after #1.

      Commenter
      blue
      Date and time
      November 14, 2012, 10:08AM
    • Mi$$ed the point! He isn't bigger than the game. The game sees that his name is worth $$$ as a part of their marketing campaign, and so wi$ to ca$h in on it. Where is the problem in that?????

      Commenter
      TommyP
      Date and time
      November 14, 2012, 10:26AM
    • Tommy P,

      So according to your logic we should make Eddie Obeid Prime Minister because he makes a lot of money for himself and the Labour Party and most of the public think he's a Jerk.

      Commenter
      NRL "NO Direction"
      Date and time
      November 14, 2012, 11:32AM
  • This petulant, irresponsible, overrated, immature prat should not be allowed back into the NRL the way he walked out on the dogs in 2008 was just a shameful display which it must be noted had a very bad impact on all the other players as well.

    Just a selfish individual and whats worse in all likelyhood he will do it again.

    All you SBW fans can now slip into troll mode

    Bye Now

    Commenter
    PastorLongrod
    Location
    Sydney
    Date and time
    November 14, 2012, 9:54AM
    • I agree, how can the NRL let him back in after he turned his back on the Dogs (who gave him his start in NRL)......

      Commenter
      the tron
      Location
      everywhere
      Date and time
      November 14, 2012, 11:39AM
    • Am no supporter of Sonny Bill, but he paid out his contract, has served his time away from the game and honoured a hand shake agreement that pockets him less money than playing union for more money. He has paid his dues for his mistakes and is generously coming back to make money for rugby league on the back of his success away from rugby league.

      He has turned into the ultimate professional and plays across codes which is something that is not done anymore these days with the professionalisation of modern sport. Sure players will switch codes and do stints there but there is no genuine dual internationals who can turn up and play league one week and the union the next. The Wallabies should take a page out of NZ's book and recruit Billy Slater during the RL off season because their back line is a disgrace.

      Troll mode? I look at your comments and laugh, you wonder why Rugby League doesn't have a big following overseas and will never be the greatest ball game in the world. The reason is only because there are too many people within rugby league circles willing to bicker and moan about how slighted they feel instead of doing things to promote the game abroad. At least the Roosters have stepped up to the plate and were willing to take a chance on this kid after being cast out as the black sheep by the NRL. It's paid off now and everyone's begging to play them including the Bulldogs

      Commenter
      El Seano
      Date and time
      November 14, 2012, 11:57AM
    • El Seano, then how ironic is it then that $BW thinks he is being honourable by coming to the roosters for a handshake agreement (of which any bloke could do) yet a does a runner on a physical contract? Please, spare me the "great for the game", the bloke is a hypocrite and shouldn't be aloud back in.

      Commenter
      Aidos
      Location
      Brissie
      Date and time
      November 14, 2012, 1:16PM
    • Cast out as a black sheep? He was never banned from the NRL, he was never fined by the NRL for breaking his contract and the only ones who had to pay for it were the Bulldogs. Why shoudl the Dogs have paid SBW for games her never played for them? Why would they pay him for leaving a great big hole in their back line?

      SBW, without warning, broke a contract of a club who took him in and gave him a chance as a junior. At the drop of a hat he left the country, left his team stranded (including those team mates who were let go so the Dogs could afford SBW) and made no apology to anyone. By letting him back into the league we tell every junior player out there that this behaviour and disrespect is completely acceptable. If it goes unpunished, then we only promote it as acceptable.

      As for your dual international point, agree that there are far fewer dual internationals these days, however many aspects of alot of the games have changed. (Also, I do agree the Wallaby back line is in shambles). How would the Melbourne Storm (and their supports) feel about the ARU if Slater was injured in the off season? Football is big buisness (with may clubs only just sirviving) these days and most clubs was their players 100% focussed on the primary clubs interests. Comments were rasied agian this year around how the representative games impact the clubs success, so releasing players for another code carries alot of risk.

      Commenter
      the tron
      Location
      everywhere
      Date and time
      November 14, 2012, 1:58PM

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