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You can't buy loyalty

Date

Chris Wilson

Saturday Serve

So a turncoat-turned-rugby-union-player-turned-boxer turned up to a press conference on Tuesday to tell us he was reluctantly turning back to rugby league, the sport that originally turned him into a household name.

And the NRL's giddy reaction to all that turning was to signal that 2013 would be the year of SBW, the game's most infamous code-hopper to become the new face of the code.

In their defence, you can only figure the NRL thought it had better cash in now, because Sonny Bill Williams is not guaranteed to be around any longer than that.

After all, Williams doesn't do contracts for more than one year. Not since he jumped on a plane to France mid-season in 2008, skipping out on a four-year deal at the Bulldogs without so much as a Dear John letter.

You may have picked up, I'm not exactly doing backflips just because Sonny Bill does.

The NRL now has a billion-dollar television deal, but surely it can do better than investing a big chunk of its marketing dollar into a blatant mercenary who has no long-term investment.

The NRL would like fans to think that Williams is another one of the game's prodigal sons. Players have previously left for the money in other football codes, but they eventually come back to the ''greatest game of all''.

Wendell Sailor. Lote Tuqiri. Mat Rogers. Now Sonny Bill and soon (if they can ever get their act together) Israel Folau.

The difference is that at least Folau has said all the right things before his impending return to rugby league.

Folau, who took more millions than marks in the AFL, opted to end his rich deal with Aussie rules because ''the passion wasn't there''.

Folau, of course, won't be much poorer for his return to rugby league, but he handled the situation with humility.

In contrast, Williams returned to league admitting his heart wasn't really in the move.

He'd made a handshake agreement with Roosters boss Nick Politis three years ago and was honouring that - reluctantly.

''If I'm honest with myself I must admit that it was pretty tough to honour what Nick and I had agreed about but I'm here today to announce I'll be doing it and it's going to be a massive challenge,'' Williams said.

Funny how a handshake agreement with one of rugby league's most powerful men meant more to Williams than a contract.

Reminds me of the scene from the movie Jerry Maguire, where Tom Cruise's character, a desperate sports agent, loses the No.1 draft pick on the eve of the NFL draft because he'd accepted the father's word. No contract was needed because ''my word is stronger than oak'', the father had assured with a handshake.

In this case, the NRL, the victim in 2008, is handing Williams everything he demands.

He can play rugby in Japan. He can participate in a boxing bout in February. And then, without a pre-season, if he's fit to return from a pectoral injury, he can play the opening match of the NRL season in March.

And in all likelihood Williams will still return to rugby union in 2014, because he must do so if he wants to play in the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

We've already seen evidence that Williams' return to league has inspired greed. Benji Marshall's manager this week tried to claim the Wests Tigers superstar would seek a release to play rugby union in Japan in the off-season, to earn a few easy bucks.

The Tigers immediately blocked that, and correctly.

Despite Marshall's request, it's only a matter of time before the next player will come out and whinge about the drawn out length of the season and needing stand-alone representative matches.

The NRL recently blocked Danny Buderus from working as a consultant coach with the ACT Brumbies because it was a conflict of interest with the code.

What angered the NRL most, more than his co-operation with rugby union, was making the announcement in Canberra in a Brumbies polo shirt.

Did anyone take note that Williams didn't even wear a Roosters polo - or any club kit for that matter - when he announced his return to rugby league on Tuesday?

That's because Williams is a man and a brand unto himself. The game needs to be branded by superstars who are loyal to the game. Former Bulldogs sharp-shooter Hazem El Masri was one of those.

El Masri said earlier this week that Williams should not have been welcomed back to rugby league, that ''he just turned his back on us''.

Maybe that's what disgruntled fans should do whenever SBW gets the ball next season. Stand up and turn around in their seats with their backs to the field. Remind Williams that you can't buy loyalty, it needs to be earned.

NRL Season 2015

Round 1
Thu, 05 MarTimes shown AEDT
BRI 6 vs SOU 36 Report Stats
Fri, 06 MarTimes shown AEDT
PAR 42 vs MAN 12 Report Report Stats
Sat, 07 MarTimes shown AEDT
NEW 24 vs WAR 14 Report Stats
GCT 18 vs WST 19 Report Stats
NQL 4 vs SYD 28 Report Stats
Sun, 08 MarTimes shown AEDT
PEN 24 vs CBY 18 Report Stats
CRO 20 vs CBR 24 Report Stats
Mon, 09 MarTimes shown AEDT
STG 4 vs MEL 12 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Fri, 13 MarTimes shown AEDT
CBY 32 vs PAR 12 Report Stats
CRO 2 vs BRI 10 Report Stats
Sat, 14 MarTimes shown AEDT
PEN 40 vs GCT Report Stats
MAN 24 vs MEL 22 Stats
NQL 14 vs NEW 16 Report Stats
Sun, 15 MarTimes shown AEDT
SOU 34 vs SYD 26 Stats
CBR 6 vs WAR 18 Report Stats
Mon, 16 MarTimes shown AEDT
WST 22 vs STG 4 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 3
Fri, 20 MarTimes shown AEDT
MAN 12 vs CBY 16 Report Stats
BRI 44 vs NQL 22 Report Stats
Sat, 21 MarTimes shown AEDT
WAR 29 vs PAR 16 Report Stats
CBR 20 vs STG 22 Report Stats
MEL 36 vs CRO 18 Report Stats
Sun, 22 MarTimes shown AEDT
SOU 20 vs WST 6 Report Stats
GCT 18 vs NEW 20 Report Stats
Mon, 23 MarTimes shown AEDT
SYD 20 vs PEN 12 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 4
Fri, 27 MarTimes shown AEDT
PAR 29 vs SOU 16 Report Stats
WST 24 vs CBY 25 Report Stats
Sat, 28 MarTimes shown AEDT
NEW vs PEN 15:00HS
CRO vs GCT 17:30Remondis Stadium
STG vs MAN 19:30WIN
Sun, 29 MarTimes shown AEDT
WAR vs BRI 12:00MSS
SYD vs CBR 14:00AS
Mon, 30 MarTimes shown AEDT
NQL vs MEL 19:001300 Smiles Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 5
Fri, 03 AprTimes shown AEDT
CBY vs SOU 16:00ANZ
GCT vs BRI 20:35Cbus Super Stadium
Sat, 04 AprTimes shown AEDT
MAN vs CBR 17:30Lavington Sports Ground
NEW vs STG 19:30HS
Sun, 05 AprTimes shown AEST
SYD vs CRO 16:00AS
Mon, 06 AprTimes shown AEST
PAR vs WST 15:00ANZ
MEL vs WAR 17:00AAMI
PEN vs NQL 19:00Pepper Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 6
Fri, 10 AprTimes shown AEST
BRI vs SYD 19:35SUN
CRO vs NEW 19:35Remondis Stadium
Sat, 11 AprTimes shown AEST
PAR vs GCT 15:00Pirtek Stadium
WAR vs WST 17:30MSS
PEN vs MAN 19:30Pepper Stadium
Sun, 12 AprTimes shown AEST
CBR vs MEL 14:00GIO Stadium
STG vs CBY 16:00ANZ
Mon, 13 AprTimes shown AEST
SOU vs NQL 19:00ANZ
View All Fixtures
Round 7
Fri, 17 AprTimes shown AEST
CBY vs MAN 19:35ANZ
STG vs BRI 19:35Jubilee Oval
Sat, 18 AprTimes shown AEST
GCT vs PEN 15:00Cbus Super Stadium
NQL vs WAR 17:301300 Smiles Stadium
MEL vs SYD 19:30AAMI
Sun, 19 AprTimes shown AEST
WST vs CBR 14:00VAS
NEW vs PAR 16:00HS
Mon, 20 AprTimes shown AEST
CRO vs SOU 19:00Remondis Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 8
Fri, 24 AprTimes shown AEST
CBY vs WST 19:45ANZ
Sat, 25 AprTimes shown AEST
WAR vs GCT 12:00MSS
NEW vs NQL 14:00HS
SYD vs STG 16:00AS
MEL vs MAN 18:15AAMI
BRI vs PAR 20:00SUN
Sun, 26 AprTimes shown AEST
PEN vs CRO 14:00Pepper Stadium
SOU vs CBR 16:00Barlow Park
View All Fixtures
Round 9
Fri, 08 MayTimes shown AEST
BRI vs PEN 19:35SUN
SYD vs WST 19:35AS
Sat, 09 MayTimes shown AEST
CBR vs GCT 15:00GIO Stadium
CRO vs WAR 17:30Remondis Stadium
NQL vs CBY 19:301300 Smiles Stadium
Sun, 10 MayTimes shown AEST
MAN vs NEW 14:00BO
PAR vs MEL 16:00Pirtek Stadium
Mon, 11 MayTimes shown AEST
SOU vs STG 19:00ANZ
View All Fixtures
Round 10
Fri, 15 MayTimes shown AEST
CBY vs SYD 19:35ANZ
NQL vs BRI 19:351300 Smiles Stadium
Sat, 16 MayTimes shown AEST
PAR vs WAR 15:00Pirtek Stadium
GCT vs CRO 17:30Cbus Super Stadium
MEL vs SOU 19:30AAMI
Sun, 17 MayTimes shown AEST
STG vs CBR 14:00WIN
NEW vs WST 16:00HS
Mon, 18 MayTimes shown AEST
MAN vs PEN 19:00BO
View All Fixtures
Round 11
Fri, 22 MayTimes shown AEST
SOU vs PAR 19:45ANZ
Sat, 23 MayTimes shown AEST
WST vs NQL 19:30CSS
Sun, 24 MayTimes shown AEST
CBR vs CBY 16:00GIO Stadium
Mon, 25 MayTimes shown AEST
NEW vs BRI 19:00HS
View All Fixtures
Round 12
Fri, 29 MayTimes shown AEST
PEN vs PAR 19:45Pepper Stadium
Sat, 30 MayTimes shown AEST
GCT vs SOU 15:00Cbus Super Stadium
CBR vs BRI 17:30GIO Stadium
NQL vs MAN 19:301300 Smiles Stadium
Sun, 31 MayTimes shown AEST
WAR vs NEW 14:00MSS
STG vs CRO 16:00Jubilee Oval
Mon, 01 JunTimes shown AEST
SYD vs MEL 19:00AS
View All Fixtures
Round 13
Fri, 05 JunTimes shown AEST
BRI vs MAN 19:35SUN
WST vs GCT 19:35VAS
Sat, 06 JunTimes shown AEST
NEW vs CBR 15:00HS
SOU vs WAR 17:30nib Stadium
PEN vs MEL 19:30Pepper Stadium
Sun, 07 JunTimes shown AEST
CRO vs SYD 16:00Remondis Stadium
Mon, 08 JunTimes shown AEST
CBY vs STG 16:00ANZ
PAR vs NQL 19:00Pirtek Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 14
Fri, 12 JunTimes shown AEST
WST vs SOU 19:45ANZ
Sat, 13 JunTimes shown AEST
WAR vs SYD 18:00MSS
Sun, 14 JunTimes shown AEST
GCT vs CBY 16:00Cbus Super Stadium
Mon, 15 JunTimes shown AEST
MEL vs PAR 19:00AAMI
View All Fixtures
Round 15
Fri, 19 JunTimes shown AEST
MAN vs WST 19:45BO
Sat, 20 JunTimes shown AEST
CBR vs NQL 15:00GIO Stadium
GCT vs WAR 17:30Cbus Super Stadium
CBY vs PEN 19:30ANZ
Sun, 21 JunTimes shown AEST
NEW vs CRO 14:00HS
MEL vs BRI 16:00AAMI
Mon, 22 JunTimes shown AEST
STG vs SYD 19:00AS
View All Fixtures
Round 16
Fri, 26 JunTimes shown AEST
BRI vs NEW 19:35SUN
SOU vs MAN 19:35ANZ
Sat, 27 JunTimes shown AEST
WAR vs CBR 15:00MSS
NQL vs CRO 17:301300 Smiles Stadium
PAR vs STG 19:30Pirtek Stadium
Sun, 28 JunTimes shown AEST
SYD vs GCT 14:00AS
WST vs PEN 16:00VAS
Mon, 29 JunTimes shown AEST
CBY vs MEL 19:00Belmore Sports Ground
View All Fixtures
Round 17
Fri, 03 JulTimes shown AEST
PEN vs SOU 19:45Pepper Stadium
Sat, 04 JulTimes shown AEST
STG vs NQL 19:30WIN
Sun, 05 JulTimes shown AEST
MAN vs CRO 16:00BO
Mon, 06 JulTimes shown AEST
WST vs PAR 19:00ANZ
View All Fixtures
Round 18
Fri, 10 JulTimes shown AEST
CBR vs NEW 19:45GIO Stadium
Sat, 11 JulTimes shown AEST
PEN vs SYD 17:30Pepper Stadium
CBY vs BRI 19:30ANZ
Sun, 12 JulTimes shown AEST
WAR vs MEL 14:00MSS
CRO vs STG 16:00Remondis Stadium
Mon, 13 JulTimes shown AEST
GCT vs MAN 19:00Cbus Super Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 19
Fri, 17 JulTimes shown AEST
PAR vs CBY 19:35ANZ
MEL vs PEN 19:35AAMI
Sat, 18 JulTimes shown AEST
CBR vs CRO 15:00GIO Stadium
NEW vs GCT 17:30HS
STG vs SOU 19:30SCG
Sun, 19 JulTimes shown AEST
SYD vs WAR 14:00AS
BRI vs WST 16:00SUN
Mon, 20 JulTimes shown AEST
MAN vs NQL 19:00BO
View All Fixtures
Round 20
Fri, 24 JulTimes shown AEST
BRI vs GCT 19:35SUN
WST vs SYD 19:35ANZ
Sat, 25 JulTimes shown AEST
WAR vs MAN 15:00MSS
SOU vs NEW 17:30ANZ
MEL vs STG 19:30AAMI
Sun, 26 JulTimes shown AEST
PEN vs CBR 14:00Pepper Stadium
CBY vs CRO 16:00Belmore Sports Ground
Mon, 27 JulTimes shown AEST
NQL vs PAR 19:001300 Smiles Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 21
Thu, 30 JulTimes shown AEST
WAR vs CRO 22:00MSS
Fri, 31 JulTimes shown AEST
NQL vs CBR 00:001300 Smiles Stadium
STG vs NEW 00:00Jubilee Oval
SOU vs PEN 00:00ANZ
SYD vs CBY 00:00AS
MAN vs BRI 00:00To Be Confirmed
WST vs MEL 00:00VAS
GCT vs PAR 00:00Cbus Super Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 22
Thu, 06 AugTimes shown AEST
WAR vs STG 22:00MSS
Fri, 07 AugTimes shown AEST
BRI vs CBY 00:00SUN
NEW vs SYD 00:00HS
CBR vs WST 00:00GIO Stadium
MAN vs SOU 00:00BO
CRO vs NQL 00:00Remondis Stadium
MEL vs GCT 00:00AAMI
PAR vs PEN 00:30TIO
View All Fixtures
Round 23
Thu, 13 AugTimes shown AEST
BRI vs STG 00:00SUN
CBY vs GCT 00:00To Be Confirmed
NQL vs SOU 00:001300 Smiles Stadium
PEN vs WAR 00:00Pepper Stadium
CBR vs MAN 00:00GIO Stadium
SYD vs PAR 00:00AS
CRO vs MEL 00:00Remondis Stadium
WST vs NEW 00:00CSS
View All Fixtures
Round 24
Wed, 19 AugTimes shown AEST
WAR vs NQL 22:00MSS
Thu, 20 AugTimes shown AEST
STG vs PEN 00:00WIN
SOU vs CBY 00:00ANZ
SYD vs BRI 00:00AS
MAN vs PAR 00:00BO
CRO vs WST 00:00Remondis Stadium
MEL vs NEW 00:00AAMI
GCT vs CBR 00:00Cbus Super Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 25
Thu, 27 AugTimes shown AEST
PAR vs CRO 00:00Pirtek Stadium
NEW vs CBY 00:00HS
SOU vs BRI 00:00AS
CBR vs PEN 00:00GIO Stadium
MAN vs SYD 00:00BO
MEL vs NQL 00:00AAMI
WST vs WAR 00:00CSS
GCT vs STG 00:00Cbus Super Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 26
Thu, 03 SepTimes shown AEST
BRI vs MEL 00:00SUN
CBY vs WAR 00:00ANZ
NQL vs GCT 00:001300 Smiles Stadium
STG vs WST 00:00ANZ
PAR vs CBR 00:00Pirtek Stadium
PEN vs NEW 00:00Pepper Stadium
SYD vs SOU 00:00AS
CRO vs MAN 00:00Remondis Stadium
View All Fixtures
NRL Ladder 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D Pts
South Sydney Rabbitohs 4 3 1 0 6
Newcastle Knights 3 3 0 0 6
Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 4 3 1 0 6
Penrith Panthers 3 2 1 0 4
Melbourne Storm 3 2 1 0 4
Sydney Roosters 3 2 1 0 4
Warriors 3 2 1 0 4
Parramatta Eels 4 2 2 0 4
View all
 
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