The Telegraph in Sydney is today reporting that Sonny Bill Williams is getting home sick and wants to come back to Australia or New Zealand to resume his football career.
You may remember that Williams had a five year contract with the Canterbury Bulldogs. Into the first year of that deal Williams got on a plane and flew to France without telling anyone, signing up to play for a French Rugby Union club and screwing over the club and its supporters like a dog.
So now he wants back and the media is suggesting that a number of teams would be willing to sign him.
Over the last 18 months there has been one huge lesson for any NRL club looking to sign players. If you buy damaged goods, you buy damaged goods!
Teams they have gone out and bought players with off field issues have suffered terribly for it. They have not just ended up with one player that is a problem they have found the entire culture of their club has been effected. Their on field performance has suffered, that has dragged the clubs off field behaviour down even further and at the end of the day it has cost a lot of people money, and their jobs.
Then you look at the other end of the scale, the teams that have gone out of their way to get rid of problem players and sign good, stable on and off field influences.
The Melbourne Storm are well known for this, and the Canterbury Bulldogs took a 180 degree turn in just an off season by clearing their club out and signing good people who were also good players.
With that in mind, what do you get when you sign Sonny Bill Williams?
Well first of all you get a player that hasn’t played a decent game of football in two years. A player who you can commit to, but who you know might not turn up to training one morning because he is on a plane to Russia to become a professional Figure Skater!
Then there are the injuries. During his Rugby League career Williams had massive injury problems. If you got a month of football out of him, you were over due for him to be injured.
Then you have the off field issues…
This is a kid that is messed up. Before he left he said he was a proud New Zealander, a proud Polynesian, he wanted to play for the Kiwi’s, then play for New South Wales in State Of Origin, then he wanted to become an All Black, and then he want to play football in France!
That was all in about two months!
You also have to consider the idiots he considers his friends. The people who’s advice he took and ruined his career. I won’t name them, they need no more press, but do you really want those people anywhere near you club? Do you want them even attending your games and having even a loose association with your team?
This of course is not taking into account that you have a young man with all of these problems who will no doubt want at least $400,000 a year for his services.
With that money you could buy any one of the very good players in the game, in fact the only players you wouldn’t be able to buy are the very best of the best, Inglis, Hayne, Lockyer, Thurston….we are talking about that level of player.
It would just be a stupid, stupid move for any club.
Lets look at the idea though that Williams got some help, he has sorted his life out, he has got rid of the idiots in his life and he is a young man that knows he did something wrong and he just wants to come back to the game he loves to play for a reasonable contract.
Who signs him? Who would be the best club for him?
Firstly I will say this, he can not be in Sydney. Its just not a good environment for him. Too much media, too many people looking to make a dollar off someone else, too many hangers on.
That rules out every Sydney club. Sure the Roosters are very likely to go after him anyway, but for this I’m saying it would be a terrible idea.
Melbourne comes to mind for a few reasons. Firstly, they have a good established team that doesn’t take shit. He wouldn’t be the star at the Storm, he’d just be a handy player. He would have a lot of good influences down there and not much media attention. Still, I don’t see them taking a gamble they don’t need to take anyway.
Brisbane would kill for some help in the forwards, but I think with the Broncos the attention would be even more than he would get in Sydney. Besides, I think fans up there in general would not take to kindly to him.
The Gold Coast, you are asking for trouble. A lower profile for sure, and a good influence as far as who would be around him. Still, its the Gold Coast, a Priest could get in trouble up there!
North Queensland are lower profile, away from all the media hype. They have some handy players but a questionable culture. They would be better for his services, but I think he’d soon get itchy feet. A number of Kiwi’s have gone up there to play, very few have lasted more than two seasons.
Canberra? I don’t even think he would consider it. Its a little close to Sydney for my liking but it could actually be the best all round place for him to go. A low profile, a place he can’t get into too much trouble at, a good team with a solid culture….it might work?
Newcastle wouldn’t though. He’d be a huge star up there, its not that far from Sydney, and besides, I think the Roosters would be looking to poach him soon after he signed anyway.
Thats leaves the New Zealand Warriors.
I think going home to New Zealand would be good for him. His profile would be big, but not too big. He’s be playing in a club with no expectations (Warriors fans know all to well, expect nothing and be surprised when something good happens!) and he would have some solid influenses around him.
He’d be out of Australia all together, which would help, and closer to family and real friends.
The Warriors would love to have a player of his profile in their team, their crowds would be boosted by it straight away.
So should they sign him? Heeeeeeell no!
The good teams are build on a stable base of players who perform well every week, who don’t have many injury concerns and who don’t have many off field issues.
Williams is just one single player who can stuff all of that up!
I would expect Williams to sign a contract to play Rugby Union. He is likely to go to play in New Zealand, but expect the ARU to try and cash in on his profile and turn his return into a train wreck.
Then again…..the Roosters….
A well known Rugby League writer, League Freak has established a reputation among supporters of the game for his fearless commentary and unmatched insight. With a reach that spans both sides of the globe, League Freak has produced an independent network that allows him to distribute content to his many thousands of followers. He is the owner and main author of LeagueFreak.com
Aug 28, 2020 0