Sonny Bill Williams
Dual international Sonny Bill Williams has confirmed a
one-season deal with the Sydney Roosters for 2013 but admits
coming back to the NRL wouldn't have been his first choice.
Rugby League's worst-kept secret finally became official
today, with Williams admitting he only left rugby union
because of a handshake agreement he made with Roosters
Chairman Nick Politis three years ago.
Williams said the decision was "tough" but he would be
looking at the season with a "glass half full" attitude.
The 27-year-old said he'd grown to love rugby union after
winning the Super Rugby championship this year with the
Chiefs and the Rugby World Cup with the All Blacks in 2011.
Williams said returning to league after a five-year absence
would be a "huge challenge."
His contract has yet to be ratified by the NRL but the
Roosters expected that to be just a formality.
The former Canterbury Bulldogs star fronted his first press
conference with the Roosters with his arm in a sling, and
said his pectoral injury will take another two to four months
But he expected to be ready for round one of the NRL season
in early March.
He declined to respond to criticism from former Bulldogs
teammate Hazem El Masri, who said Williams shouldn't be
allowed back in rugby league because of the way he walked out
on the Bulldogs in 2008 when he left mid-season to join
French rugby club Toulon.
"Haz is entitled to his opinion," was all Williams said.
Williams said he'd met his new Roosters teammates and was
looking forward to the season ahead.
"The boys are a great bunch of blokes, a bit like the Chiefs,
they're real young," he said.
"I'm looking forward to getting back out there in a game I
grew up playing and put my best foot forward.
"It was pretty tough (to come back). It's tough, but me and
Nick are good friends, good mates.
"He tried to get me when I was an 18-year-old.
"When I made that (handshake) agreement with him I knew it
would always be the case ... glass half full."
Williams also has a boxing career but said he won't fight
during the season.
He declined to confirm whether he would be available for the
Kiwis' Rugby League World Cup campaign at the end of next
season, saying it could depend on his boxing commitments.
Williams was primarily a back-rower in his league days and a
centre in rugby union but said he was happy to play whatever
position required by coach Trent Robinson.