Don’t underestimate Sonny Bill Williams

David Lord Columnist

By David Lord, David Lord is a Roar Expert

 , , ,

73 Have your say

    Sonny Bill Williams could be unstoppable at the Rio Olympics. (AP Photo/SNPA, John Cowpland)

    Related coverage

    When is the sporting world going to recognise Sonny Bill Williams as a very special footballer?

    The 27-year-old Auckland born Kiwi’s outstanding natural ability has been somewhat clouded by his 2008 decision to walk out on his contract with the Bulldogs to switch to rugby in France with Toulon.

    By acceptable behaviour standards, that wasn’t one of SBW’s shrewdest moves, although acceptable behaviour hasn’t been the Bulldogs’ strong suit of late.

    But this discussion is all about talent, a commodity SBW has in abundance.

    As a rugby league second rower, and rugby centre, his basic talent is that of a super athlete.

    Full stop. Every other aspect is a bonus.

    His size – 194cm tall and stopping the scales at 104kgs – is bolstered by his speed, his ball-handling, his uncanny ability to off-load under attention and pressure, and his defence.

    And the football brains he was born with, it’s not possible to learn, just like ball-sense, you’ve got it or you haven’t.

    SBW has got both alright, and some.

    What a complete package, and yet he’s not recognised nearly enough. He’d be one of the very first picked in my side, in either code.

    Which brings us to boxing, and his blossoming heayweight career with five fights for five wins.

    SBW contends the ring gives him extra fitness over and above his football peers. The only worry from his football coaches is that he could cop a hiding.

    SBW differs, he believes in his boxing ability as much as his football and he wants to go as far in the ring as he does on the paddock.

    I have grave doubts about the ring, but only because he’s a close mate of Anthony Mundine, who just looks for trouble (as the Roar’s Tim Prentice pointed out so well yesterday).

    If SBW teamed up with legendary boxing trainer Johnny Lewis, that’s a far better scenario, and would be instrumental in furthering SBW’s career.

    As good as he is, we haven’t seen the best of Sonny Bill Williams on the football field, as Roosters fans will find out next year.

    New coach Trent Robinson is contemplating playing his star recruit-to-be as a backrower. What a waste of talent.

    SBW must be in the centres, where he can use all his attributes with room to move.

    The same size paddock as rugby, but two less defenders. Picnic time for SBW and the Roosters.

    It’s a shame we will never see the big bloke in rugby league’s Holy Grail – State of Origin.

    But his presence in a black jumper will add spice to any Test across the ditch, especially playing outside Benji Marshall and Kieran Foran against Cooper Cronk, Johnathan Thurston, and Greg Inglis.

    Bring it on.

    David Lord
    David Lord

    David Lord was deeply involved in two of the biggest sporting stories - World Series Cricket in 1977 and professional rugby in 1983. After managing Jeff Thomson and Viv Richards during WSC, in 1983 David signed 208 of the best rugby players from Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and France to play an international pro circuit. The concept didn?t get off the ground, but it did force the IRB to get cracking and bring in the World Rugby Cup, now one of the world?s great sporting spectacles

    If you could choose from any and every NRL player in the competition, who would you pick in your rugby league dream team? Let us know with our team picker right here, and be sure to share it with all your league-loving mates.

    Have Your Say

    If not logged in, please enter your name and email before submitting your comment. Please review our comments policy before posting on the Roar.

    Oldest | Newest | Most Recent

    The Crowd Says (73)

    • October 24th 2012 @ 7:53am
      Matt h said | October 24th 2012 @ 7:53am | ! Report

      I still think wide running back rower like Hoffman from Melbourne is his spot. But agree with all else. The guy may be an idiot but he can sure play

    • October 24th 2012 @ 8:07am
      George said | October 24th 2012 @ 8:07am | ! Report

      After reading your first couple of sentences you lost me!
      Whats with the acceptable behaviour line and the Bulldogs? I’m guessing in your eyes 2 wrongs makes a right so its all good then?

      He will be injured come round 3 because his body isnt up to league standards hence why when he was in his early 20’s he signed a long term deal after so many injuries..

      Nothing will change.

      • Columnist

        October 24th 2012 @ 8:34am
        David Lord said | October 24th 2012 @ 8:34am | ! Report

        George, what SBW did to the Bulldogs was inexcusable. What a Bulldog did in the grand final was inexcusable, What the Bulldogs did on Mad Monday was inexcusable. But all three inexcusables are done and dusted, let’s get on with it.

        • October 24th 2012 @ 8:42am
          George said | October 24th 2012 @ 8:42am | ! Report

          Ahh jeez, David your working on the lowest form of journalism here.

          We can sit here all day, run through every club and pick out the inexcusable things that have happened till the end of time.

          Nate Myles hanging a dump in a hotel room foyer whilst at the Roosters springs to mind. ( but i suppose as he was a ex Canterbury player its there fault too? )

          And if its all done and dusted as you say, besides the obvious in stirring up Canterbury fans like myself and getting hits on your piece, why would you make it your starting point to an article?

          • Columnist

            October 24th 2012 @ 8:57am
            David Lord said | October 24th 2012 @ 8:57am | ! Report

            George, for the simple reason if I didn’t bring up what riles Bulldog fans most early, you would have jumped on me for ignoring it. Just pinched a bit of your thunder so I could get on with the real reason for writing this column, recognising SBW as a crack footballer in both codes.

            • October 24th 2012 @ 9:08am
              George said | October 24th 2012 @ 9:08am | ! Report

              Fair play David. Im not angling for an arguement or anything. lets agree to disagree.

              He is an athelete through and through, once was a great league player now has found his feet in union.

              It’s easier to move from league to union and make it, but in the modern era i havent seen many players (if any) come in the other way around like so many league players from Aust, NZ and GB that have gone to Union and played at the highest level with such ease.

              I just dont think his body will cope in league as it didnt when he was young, i cant see it changing now.

              • Columnist

                October 24th 2012 @ 9:21am
                David Lord said | October 24th 2012 @ 9:21am | ! Report

                George, there’s no argument whatsoever. SBW has only been out of league for five years, he’s not making a transition, he’s making a return – much easier. He’s now 27, he’s fitter and physically stronger than he was in his early 20s, he’s a far better footballer with the added experience, and ready to make an immediate impact.

            • October 24th 2012 @ 9:30am
              soapit said | October 24th 2012 @ 9:30am | ! Report

              you brought it up but then went further and had a fairly irrelevant crack at the club.

              • Columnist

                October 24th 2012 @ 9:54am
                David Lord said | October 24th 2012 @ 9:54am | ! Report

                Totally relevant soapit. The Bulldogs wanted to hang SBW from the Belmore grandstand for doing the wrong thing by walking out of his contract, yet the Bulldogs didn’t cover themselves in any glory during and after the grand final. Totally relevant.

              • October 24th 2012 @ 10:14am
                soapit said | October 24th 2012 @ 10:14am | ! Report

                isn’t the story about sbw’s abilities? you’re stretching things to be able to make it seem relevant to that.

    • October 24th 2012 @ 8:08am
      Go warriors said | October 24th 2012 @ 8:08am | ! Report

      David you are putting a lot of pressure on the bloke. No doubt he is a quality player but other NRL teams will be doing their home work and making sure he is shut down.

      • Columnist

        October 24th 2012 @ 8:51am
        David Lord said | October 24th 2012 @ 8:51am | ! Report

        GW, teams have tried to shut down Cameron Smith, Billy Slater, Greg Inglis and many others. But the greats find a way, SBW will do the same.

    • October 24th 2012 @ 8:25am
      Cantab said | October 24th 2012 @ 8:25am | ! Report

      Yip, full of talent and doing his upmost to squander it.

      • October 24th 2012 @ 11:13am
        Nick said | October 24th 2012 @ 11:13am | ! Report

        Definitely squandered talent. I mean, all he’s used it for is winning the NRL grand final, winning the rugby world cup, winning the super rugby tournament and making stacks of cash.

        He must be wracked with worry every night about where his career is going, nobody seems to want him to play for them or pay him well for anything he does


        • October 24th 2012 @ 1:42pm
          RebelRanger said | October 24th 2012 @ 1:42pm | ! Report

          LAWYERED !!

    • October 24th 2012 @ 8:26am
      Pot Stirrer said | October 24th 2012 @ 8:26am | ! Report

      I have no concerns about his boxing. He is only fighting hacks and i dont know but the longest fight he has had would only be around 5
      rounds. (15minutes). And there is no fitter athlete imo than a boxer. The exrta exposure he will give the roosters will be great for Sponsors,recruitment of fans,getting people to the game, It is a shame what he did to the dogs but there is no point in dwelling on that.
      Roosters v Rabbits rnd 1, SBW(the deserter) v GI (the traitor). should be a cracker

      • October 24th 2012 @ 8:47am
        Mals said | October 24th 2012 @ 8:47am | ! Report

        At least the latest opponent, Botha, has fought some quality opponents in the past -> Evander Holyfield, Lennox Lewis, Mike Tyson etc.

        • October 24th 2012 @ 10:06am
          Shaun said | October 24th 2012 @ 10:06am | ! Report

          I don’t see how SBW can ever beat Botha. Sure he has lost his last few fights, but these were against MUCH better & experienced opponents than SBW. For goodness sake, Botha went all the way in his last fight against an Italian who is bigger than SBW & is undefeated in like 30 fights – that’s a lot of experience & skill compared to SBW.
          So i don’t see how SBW has more than a 0% chance of victory. Maybe he wants to get beaten up…whatever floats your boat i guess!
          Unless everybody is missing something, & SBW has much more talent & skill than people realise!

          • October 24th 2012 @ 11:53am
            Pot Stirrer said | October 24th 2012 @ 11:53am | ! Report

            How old is Botha, I doubt SBW would take a fight with someone that his entourage dont believe he will beat. I mean i think if he loses it is the end of his boxing career. Also im not so convinced SBW will be returning to Union after just 1 year.

            • October 24th 2012 @ 2:05pm
              Tigranes said | October 24th 2012 @ 2:05pm | ! Report


              Botha is 44 years old, I dont know how fit he is, but hes fought better fighters that SBW.

              • October 24th 2012 @ 2:25pm
                Pot Stirrer said | October 24th 2012 @ 2:25pm | ! Report

                Tigranes, I think the fact he is 44 is enough for the fight not to have any credibilty. The bloke will be knackered after a few rounds and SBW will just move in for the kill.

              • October 24th 2012 @ 4:11pm
                Tigranes said | October 24th 2012 @ 4:11pm | ! Report

                Pot Stirrer

                wasnt one of SBW’s previous opponents in a similar boat – overweight, older than SBW?

              • October 24th 2012 @ 4:21pm
                Pot Stirrer said | October 24th 2012 @ 4:21pm | ! Report

                Yea im sure your rite and they talked him up and he only lasted 2 rounds B4 being Kod, im sure it will be the same story. nice way to make a couple hundred thousand if you can do it.

              • Roar Guru

                October 24th 2012 @ 5:28pm
                Damien said | October 24th 2012 @ 5:28pm | ! Report

                Pot Stirrer

                On the 5 Nov 1994 George Foreman became a HW Champ (again) at 45.
                March 3 2007 Randy Couture became the UFC HW Champ at 43.

                Buffalo’s age isn’t the issue here, its the fact that SBW is even taking him on.

                There is a young South African HW Flo Simba that was KOing guys left right and centre. He had 9 KO’s in his first 10 fights. Boxing pundits in SA were talking Flo up as a future HW Champ and the like. Flo really did look the goods.

                Then Flo thought he could fast track his route to a HW title shot by taking on the White Buffalo. Some said that Flo was moving too fast. That he needed to take it slower coz he still had much to learn.

                Well Flo didn’t listen and Buffalo KO’d him in the sixth round. This was only last year. Flo’s gone on to lose 3 (all by KO) of his next 4 fights. And these are to guys who people believe Flo should have beaten.

                The Buffalo broke Flo’s spirit when he KO’d him last year and Flo’s never been the same fighter. He’s now leaving boxing indefinitely to concentrate on his studies.

                The Buffalo is one tough Mofo. Not to be flippant about violence but there’s a joke among the islanders at work here that Buffalo is the one of the very few ‘white’ guys that islanders would think twice about taking on in a bar room brawl..

              • October 25th 2012 @ 9:18am
                Pot Stirrer said | October 25th 2012 @ 9:18am | ! Report

                I think foremans win was at a time when the heavy weight ranks of boxing was at an all time low. However i think Couture is an amazing UFC fighter but becuase of the nature of UFC contests older fighters are able to grind there younger opponents down through grappling and experiance. I m just basing my thoughts on the history of SBW and Mundines previous opponents. Its all about the money
                i believe and like i said earlier i dont believe they would look for a fight that they wernt certain he will win becuase the gravy train would then be over. I know nothing of this Botha and had never heard of him so i may well be wrong. Although id have a fifty with anyone who wanted to back Botha.

    • October 24th 2012 @ 9:33am
      soapit said | October 24th 2012 @ 9:33am | ! Report

      he is too slow to be a top centre in league.

      and david i couldnt find that tim prentice article. do you have a link?

      • Columnist

        October 24th 2012 @ 9:58am
        David Lord said | October 24th 2012 @ 9:58am | ! Report

        Yesterdays Roar soapit, it’s still up there on the left hand column near the bottom of the front page.

        • October 24th 2012 @ 10:15am
          soapit said | October 24th 2012 @ 10:15am | ! Report

          got it. cheers

    , , ,