SBW leaves as rugby’s best No.12: Cooper
Quade Cooper suspects rugby hasn’t seen the last of Sonny Bill Williams but will suffer significantly for the imminent departure of the code’s best No.12.
Cooper rated good friend Williams the top inside centre in the game after the dual New Zealand international announced on Monday he would return to the NRL next year.
His code-jumping will come after a lucrative 12-match stint with the Panasonic club in Japan, ruling him out New Zealand’s squad in the four-nation Rugby Championship.
“It’s going to be massive to lose a player like him,” Cooper said.
“He’s done a lot for rugby in the short time he’s been here and he’s possibly the best No.12 in the world.
“The things he’s been doing on the rugby field, the crowds he’s been drawing to the games and the attention he’s brought to rugby has been massive.”
Williams’ form for the Chiefs in Super Rugby and for the All Blacks in last month’s 3-0 whitewash of Ireland has propelled him past Test teammate Ma’a Nonu and Welsh centre Jamie Roberts as the leading inside centre.
Cooper and Williams, both managed by Sydney agent Khoder Nasser, had been the centre of speculation last year they would sign with the Sydney Roosters as a package deal.
The Bondi Junction club is Williams’ likely destination despite his refusal to say.
Of all the things the former Canterbury Bulldog achieved in the 15-man code, a win at Cooper’s home ground at Suncorp Stadium was not one, finishing with an 0-4 record.
“I know it’s been a tough decision for him because playing for the All Blacks is what drew him to the game and (it would be hard) to walk away after such a successful stint in rugby,” Cooper said.
“It would be good to see him back in the coming future.”© AAP 2013