Williams joins monster Bulldogs NRL pack
Giant Test backrower Tony Williams will add punch to Des Hasler’s increasingly fearsome Canterbury pack after being poached from NRL premiers Manly on a four-year deal from next season.
The 23-year-old back-rower on Monday became the first player from the Sea Eagles’ 2011 premiership-winning side to agree to reunite with their former coach Hasler at Belmore.
He will pack down alongside the likes of England international prop James Graham, New Zealand behemoth Sam Kasiano, Kiwis enforcer Frank Pritchard, Greg Eastwood and former NSW hooker Michael Ennis next season as Hasler’s Bulldogs revolution gathers pace.
Williams has developed into one of the best back-rowers in the game since joining Manly from Parramatta in 2008 as a damaging but raw winger.
He made a big impact in his NSW State of Origin debut last month before sustaining a back injury that has sidelined him for up to a month.
The Eels tried to entice Williams back to the club, but he knocked it back, with the chance to play under Hasler and alongside close childhood friend Krisnan Inu believed to be the main reason for his decision to leave the premiers.
Williams’ departure will improve Manly’s salary cap prospects of keeping Matt Ballin and Brett Stewart, who are both off-contract at the end of the year.
NSW fullback Stewart’s representatives have still to agree terms on a deal that will keep him at the club, with Manly officials saying talks are still progressing.
Ballin is being chased by Canberra, but has indicated he wants to remain at Manly and has so far held off on discussions with other suitors.
Manly chief executive David Perry said the club were sorry to lose Williams, but had to take into consideration the wider needs of the club’s roster.
“Tony Williams is clearly a big loss to the club and we’re very disappointed to see him leave the Sea Eagles,” Perry said.
“While we were competitive in negotiations, we are also conscious of maximising our wider playing roster, not only for now but well into the future.
“We respect Tony’s decision and we wish him all the best from 2013.”© AAP 2013