All Black star in shock Toronto move
NEWS: Two-time World Cup winner Sonny Bill Williams is close to finalising his return to Rugby League with Super League debutants Toronto Wolfpack, according to British media reports.
The 34-year-old, who bowed out of Rugby union following New Zealand’s third-placed finish at the World Cup, will sign a two year contract worth a record £5-million (US$6.5 million).
The BBC says he has agreed the deal whilst Press Association Sport report the deal is in the process of being finalised and should be announced before the end of the week, ahead of his unveiling at Canada House in London next week.
Williams will be one of the Wolfpack’s two marquee signings which means only the first £150,000 of his salary will count on the league’s salary cap.
Toronto head coach Brian McDermott flew to Japan during the World Cup to meet with Williams’ representatives and is thought to have held face-to-face talks with the player he believes can have as big an impact on Super League as David Beck ham had with Major League Soccer.
As part of the deal, Williams will make history by taking a stake in the club ahead of their move onto the stock market.
Williams, who was capped 58 times by the All Blacks and won the World Cup with them in 2011 and 2015, is no stranger to the 13-man code having twice played in the Australian National Rugby League competition.
Unlike union where he played in the backs he played as a forward and on both occasions won the NRL title firstly with Canterbury Bulldogs (2004) and then with Sydney Roosters (2013).
Williams also played in the New Zealand side that lost to bitter rivals Australia in the 2013 Rugby League World Cup final.
A multi-talented sportsman he won all seven of his professional boxing bouts and held the World Boxing Association International heavyweight title and New Zealand Professional Boxing Association heavyweight title.
Toronto – who are backed by the Australian oil tycoon David Argyle – who first competed in 2017 in the third tier League 1.
They have since built up a home following of 9,000 and were promoted to the Super League in October after beating Featherstone Rovers 24-6 in the Million Pound Game.
Their maiden Super League campaign – which is the first time top-level rugby league will be played in North America – begins against Castleford on February 2.