New Zealand rugby league convert Sonny Bill Williams is very close to agreeing to a contract extension with French Top 14 side Toulon, club president Mourad Boudjellal said on Tuesday.
A meeting took place on Monday between the president and the player’s Australian agent, during which the two parties reached agreement on the financial details of the contract but not on its duration.
Williams, 23, sparked a media storm last summer when he left Australia mid-season to switch codes and play in Europe, despite being only one year into a five-year contract with the Bulldogs.
Toulon hope to tie Williams to the club for a further three years, but the player himself, who is enjoying a successful second half of the season after being sidelined by injury in September, only wants to stay for two more years.
Despite the difference, Boudjellal remains confident that the star centre will put pen to paper.
“Unless there is a huge financial offer from another club, Sonny Bill Williams will stay at Toulon,” he said.
“The meeting was positive and I hope the new deal will be signed next Monday.”
The signing of the contract should therefore take place in the presence of the club’s new sporting director Philippe Saint-Andre, who is expected to be at the club from March 15-18 to interview individual players and to oversee contract extensions.
Saint-Andre, currently the coach of English Premiership team Sale, does not officially take up his role at Toulon until July 1.
Toulon have already begun their recruitment process for next season, with Saint-Andre having authorised contact with a host of top-class players.
Argentine internationals Felipe Contepomi (Leinster) and Juan Martin Fernandez-Lobbe (Sale), England’s Jonny Wilkinson (Newcastle) and Joe El Abd (Bristol) and Scottish brothers Sean (Northampton) and Rory Lamont (Sale) are all on Toulon’s wish-list.
Boudjellal, though, sounded a cautionary note about the potential transfers, saying: “The players won’t come just because we have established contact with them.”
Toulon are currently languishing in 11th place in the 14-team French top flight, despite significant investment in the club.
Coach and former All Black great Tana Umaga came out of retirement in February in a bid to save the side from relegation and Toulon currently sit five points above the drop zone with seven matches of the season remaining.