Sonny Bill Williams thrives on a problem however as he took in his environment on Thursday even he was fast to confess this was an entire new world. “That makes it so exciting because I believe in this project,” the Toronto Wolfpack signing stated.
Seldom does rugby league appeal to the eye of the alternative code, however once you mix a participant of Williams’s profile with a league franchise as distinctive as Toronto, it isn’t tough to see why this transfer has the sporting world speaking. By his personal admission it’s seemingly the ultimate chapter of an excellent cross-code profession.
“It probably is the last hurrah for me but it doesn’t mean I’m here for a holiday,” Williams stated. “I’m here to succeed.” The multimillion-pound two-year deal he has signed with the Wolfpack may very well be his final – he’s 34 – and in an indication of the pull the Canadian membership have, he admitted they’re maybe the one league group for which he might have been lured again to the 13-man code.
“This opportunity was the only one – it had to be something special,” Williams stated. “I believe in what the [Auckland-based] Blues are doing and they were moving in the right direction but when this arose I knew I had to sit down and have a think. Then when I spoke with the club and they told me what they were trying to achieve, it just made sense.”
Toronto have made no secret of their ambition to revolutionise rugby league and a participant with the profile of Williams is arguably the most important factor to occur to the game in a long time. The chance to make use of his appreciable affect in a brand new market equivalent to North America will not be misplaced on him, both.
“If we can get some traction and the sport takes off over there, that would be awesome. I want to help deliver some exposure in North America and prove to people that these guys are here to stay. Who knows, maybe we can start another team in Canada too?”
There’s additionally the possibility to make an actual distinction at any time when Toronto are taking part in away from house within the north of England. Lots of the cities Williams will go to with the his new teammates in 2020 have racial divisions and different deep-rooted cultural issues. As a proud Muslim, can Williams encourage a brand new group of individuals to choose up a rugby ball?
“If I can make a difference in that regard, then that would be awesome. But I will just try to do my best there. Racial tension is everywhere brother, not just in the north of England.”
Toronto have in contrast the importance of signing Williams to LeBron James, a likeness that doesn’t sit simply with the participant. “I understand why they’ve done it, though … to get traction in North America. But there’s no better opportunity for me than this one and not wanting to be compared to him doesn’t mean it’s pressure, it just means I don’t see myself as a big star like that.”
Many in each codes of rugby would disagree – and with the Wolfpack intent on signing additional large names within the buildup to their first season in Super League, Williams will not be the final megastar to make the transfer to rugby league in Canada.
“A few big names in union have expressed an interest to me,” Williams stated. “I won’t name names or I’ll get into trouble but let’s just say if we do sign some big rugby players to come to Toronto, it would be great for us as a club.”
Time will inform whether or not others will comply with Williams to the Wolfpack and it stays tough to foretell how sizeable a transfer this may very well be for the profile of rugby league on each side of the Atlantic.
Williams admitted to figuring out solely considered one of his teammates – the previous Nice Britain ahead Jon Wilkin – and could be very a lot getting into the unknown however that’s most likely simply how a participant who has at all times pushed himself out of his consolation zone likes it.
“This project has got me on the edge of my seat. Who knows what success looks like for Toronto but it’s exciting to be part of it and unlike anything I’ve experienced before.”