Sonny Bill Williams confirms return to rugby league, joins Toronto Wolfpack

Samoan and Fijian players gather in prayer pre-match

Williams, who lifted the World Cup with the All Blacks in 2011 and 2015, won the National Rugby League Premiership in 2004 with the Bulldogs and in 2013 with the Sydney Roosters.

The Wolfpack, a Canadian franchise, is funded by Australian mining billionaire David Argyle and will make its debut in the Super League next year after winning promotion by beating Featherstone Rovers. "I want to be part of all this and do all I can to help reach those lofty goals", Williams said.

It means Williams should be free to return for the Kiwis after last appearing for them in the 2013 Rugby League World Cup final Australia won 34-2 in Manchester, but Samoa coach Matt Parish has declared his interest in luring the 34-year-old, who has a Samoan passport, into playing for his team.

"Toronto Wolfpack has established themselves as a multicultural and economic powerhouse, not only in the city but across the world", Williams said.

"Off the field I'd like to use my experience to mentor the young players and be helpful where I am needed".

New Zealand centre Sonny Bill Williams reacts after losing the Japan 2019 Rugby World Cup semifinal match between England and New Zealand at the International Stadium Yokohama in Yokohama on 26 October 2019.

The New Zealander will nearly certainly come under the "Marquee Player" rule, which states: 'Each Super League and Championship Club is permitted to have two Marquee Players whose Salary Cap Value is limited to £150,000 (or £75,000 if Club Trained)'.

"I know that although Sonny's New Zealand born but he's very proud of his Samoa heritage", Parish told NRL.com.


Kiwis coach Michael Maguire was coy on whether he wanted Sonny Bill Williams to return to worldwide league with his New Zealand squad but admitted there was "an open opportunity" for the departing All Black after his latest code switch.

"I never dreamed that I'd play in the black jersey for ten years playing alongside some of the legends of the game, and I'm grateful for the support of so many people in helping me grow as a footy player over that time", Williams said in a statement released by New Zealand Rugby.

"I've also appreciated the support of many people at NZR, particularly the Chairman Brent Impey and Head of Professional Rugby Chris Lendrum".

"The main point of excitement for our club is that we are signing a great rugby league player who has the hunger to be successful in Super League much as he was in the NRL and rugby union".

"Having someone of his talent join the Wolfpack will greatly raise the profile of the club, and also help move the game forward globally".

The All Blacks star is said to be close to a move to Toronto Wolfpack.

"Sonny is a phenomenal athlete and we believe he is rugby's LeBron James and his addition to our league is comparable to when David Beckham joined LA Galaxy".

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