Code battle for Sonny Bill’s services

By Darren Walton, Darren Walton is a Roar Guru

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    Another tug-of-war between rugby league and rugby union is developing for the services of dual international Sonny Bill Williams. Not for his on-field prowess, but for his off-field impact.

    Williams’ former Super Rugby-winning teammates the Chiefs are hankering to have the sought-after code-hopper at Allianz Stadium for Friday night’s clash with the NSW Waratahs.

    But the New Zealand rugby league team is also expecting the injured superstar in the sheds at the same time when the Kiwis tackle Australia in a one-off Test in Canberra.

    Chiefs coach Dave Rennie, confident of luring the 27-year-back across the Tasman, was assuming Williams would be supporting his side on Friday night after SBW made a bee-line to his old teammates when they arrived in Sydney on Thursday night.

    “We were only here for about 30 minutes and we caught up with Sonny,” Rennie said on Thursday.

    “But the Kiwis are pretty keen to drag him down to Canberra just to have him on the sideline to support there.

    “So I’m not sure what he’ll end up doing.”

    Long-term, Rennie has a much clearer idea where Williams will end up after his stint with the Sydney Roosters.

    “I reckon there’s a good show of getting him back in 2015 – World Cup year,” Rennie said.

    “There’s a lot of water to go under the bridge between now and then and, who knows? He may love his return to rugby league and it might be hard to prise him out.

    “But he’s always up for challenges, Sonny, so a World Cup would be a good opportunity to try and lure him back.

    “And if he certainly comes back to rugby, he’d definitely come back to the Chiefs, so we’re keen to see that happen.

    “He was a massive part of our group last year. He loves the boys, so it was good having him around.”

    With no Williams on the park against the Waratahs this year, Rennie planned to at least have his ex-charge deliver a motivational pre-match pep talk to the Chiefs following their disappointing home loss to the Queensland Reds.

    Rennie is also hoping Richard Kahui will have a Williams-type influence on the match after moving the classy All Black from outside to inside centre this week.

    “That’s the plan,” he said.

    “Richard’s made a bucketload of line breaks in the last two weeks. He reckons he’s made more line breaks in the last two weeks than he has in his whole career.

    “That’s probably not that accurate, but he’s been a real handful.

    © AAP 2018

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    The Crowd Says (25)

    • April 19th 2013 @ 5:18am
      kingplaymaker said | April 19th 2013 @ 5:18am | ! Report

      The NZRU shouldn’t let SBW back if he comes in 2015: it makes a complete mockery of the team and obviously weakens the chances as he will just have a few games in a pared-down RC to make a combination in the centres.

      They should give him an ultimatum: come back in 2014 or not at all.

      • April 19th 2013 @ 6:30am
        mania said | April 19th 2013 @ 6:30am | ! Report

        kind of agree KPM but then if he’s the best and combines well with the incumbants then let him. but i reckon it will take at least a season to gel and refind his feet and understand what ever the new dynamic of the backline is then.

        this man love for SBW is so embarrassing.

        • April 19th 2013 @ 6:41am
          kingplaymaker said | April 19th 2013 @ 6:41am | ! Report

          mania I think for combinations to be at their best you need whoever the centres are to have played a lot together. That’s impossible if SBW comes back in 2015.

          Also, he won’t be as good arriving at the last moment as he would after two years developing leading up to it.

          Finally, two years building up combinations and getting through tough match situations maximises the effectiveness of the backline as a whole.

          One year is a joke and relegates the All Blacks to a cheerful last-minute holiday destination to pick up a World Cup experience. It’s wouldn’t be so much a bad precedent as a complete ridiculing of the team and black jersey. The NZRU should give an ultimatum: come in 2014 and take the team seriously, or don’t come at all.

          • April 19th 2013 @ 6:48am
            mania said | April 19th 2013 @ 6:48am | ! Report

            it depends on the player KPM. a professional like kahui or conradSmithwill slot in with anyone and have an awesome game as well as providing cover and positional play to make his team mates look good. if kahui or smith are in the center spot then SBW could slot in there easy.
            it is a big ask of SBW and not saying that he can or cant do it. just saying he gets a shot and if proves himself then let him.
            TBH AB’s dont care about the ridicule and do their talking on the field.

        • April 19th 2013 @ 8:39pm
          derrick said | April 19th 2013 @ 8:39pm | ! Report

          At least a season?!
          Mate, he’s been lost to league for 5 years and is already after a handful of games one of the best players in the NRL…and the NRL has changed more in those 5 years than rugby will in 2 years when SBW returns.
          Its simple: if SBW proves himself throughout 2015 and earns a spot for the RWC then good on him and good on NZ for looking beyond the out-dated concept of who does & doesn’t deserve to play for their country based upon this so-called issue of loyalty. SBW’s NZ loyalty is beyond doubt. Unless he is found to be a North Korean spy i don’t see why he doesn’t deserve it if he has earned it…It’s called meritocracy – that’s what makes any organisation prosper.

    • April 19th 2013 @ 6:33am
      kombiutedriver said | April 19th 2013 @ 6:33am | ! Report

      Is this the future of the modern game? Short term contracts ……. Code-hopping …….. The professional era of Rugby has certainly changed the game. Are we losing some of the traditions and expectations of the good old amateur days?

      • April 19th 2013 @ 8:04am
        Simon Levingston said | April 19th 2013 @ 8:04am | ! Report

        Kombiutedriver, as soon as the game became professional it also became about the money too. It is all about contracts and what your manager can negotiate. The better player you are the more options you get in your contract, SBW is a great talent and the contract terms are in his favour. NZ rugby will have him back because he is so good.

    • April 19th 2013 @ 6:57am
      Sailosi said | April 19th 2013 @ 6:57am | ! Report

      On the other hand KPM, it means that the NZRU don’t have to worry about paying for his services. It gives Aki and Ngatai the chance to develop and the Roosters are paying to keep him fit and by 2015 he still gets a full pre season and super rugby season with the Chiefs. Having said all that I don’t think he’ll return to rugby union.

      Comment from The Roar’s iPhone app.

    • April 19th 2013 @ 7:07am
      kingplaymaker said | April 19th 2013 @ 7:07am | ! Report

      True Sailosi, but I think Khoder Nasser has pushed a fashion of one-year deals that are not good for the unions that accept them. In the end, they either make a stand and demand two or three year deals, or more and more players will hop around for a year here and there, and arrive just for World Cup year. The result will be very bad for the team. I think instead of letting SBW determine the rules, they should start to make them themselves. I’m not suggesting long four year deals with no get-out clauses, but something more than a single year. And they have to be brave enough to lose him in order to make a stand.

      • April 19th 2013 @ 7:17am
        mania said | April 19th 2013 @ 7:17am | ! Report

        KPM and Sailosi – u cant eat loyalty.
        NZRFU had no issues dealing with khoder. khoder is not the devil.
        SBW is well within his rights to sign 1 year deals. if a team doesnt like it dont sign him. its capitalism at its purest. if SBW gets injured then you’ll see how much loyalty rugby will have to him

        • April 19th 2013 @ 7:32am
          WQ said | April 19th 2013 @ 7:32am | ! Report

          Here Here mania, what you are in fact saying is that the 1 year contracts are just as big a risk to the player as they are annoying for the Club.
          My suggestion is that only the very best players in the world should walk this path and SBW is one of them!

          • April 19th 2013 @ 7:37am
            mania said | April 19th 2013 @ 7:37am | ! Report

            zackery WQ – i dont see the big deal that KPM is on about. these 1 year deals whilst give a bit more cash carries an equal risk.
            KPM you should be complaining when a fringe player is only signed to a 1 year deal as well then. if the clubs can do it why cant a player thats good enough demand it?
            get sick of people going on about loyalty and legacy BS. this is a business and players have such a short time to make money in this sport.
            folau is just as much a mercenary as SBW is, in fact more so when folau goes back to league next year.

            • April 19th 2013 @ 8:50am
              Simon Levingston said | April 19th 2013 @ 8:50am | ! Report

              I agree Mania, capitalism is a two edged sword with no job security. It is hypocritical of the officials to bang on about loyalty and obligations, when they are making a good living out of the game with no risk of injury and no public critique on weekly performances.

    • April 19th 2013 @ 8:12am
      kingplaymaker said | April 19th 2013 @ 8:12am | ! Report

      Often it’s said that the 1 year contracts are as bad potentially for the player as the club, but actually I don’t think that’s the case.

      I think it’s good for a player to be able to move around if he wants like SBW, although there is some risk to his market value, but much worse for the union who end up only having a player for a year at a time and not being able to build a team around him. I think in one year contracts unions are the losers.

      • April 19th 2013 @ 8:18am
        mania said | April 19th 2013 @ 8:18am | ! Report

        you cant have it both ways KPM – clubs give out more 1 year contracts than there are players who can demand it.
        this is a pro era, any club that cannot adapt to a player slotting in and out doesnt deserve to survive.
        more fans follow individuals than a club.

      • April 19th 2013 @ 8:40am
        WQ said | April 19th 2013 @ 8:40am | ! Report

        KPM, i have to disagree, the clubs are only the losers for the very top echelon of players.
        Clubs hand out 1 year contracts all the time, why is it ok for the clubs to do it without anybody moaning at all? However when a player demands it, all of a sudden the club is being disadvantaged.
        The clubs can’t have it both ways!
        I might repeat however that only the very best players in the world should walk this path as it is a high risk process for the player.

        • April 19th 2013 @ 8:42am
          mania said | April 19th 2013 @ 8:42am | ! Report

          agree WQ.
          KPM hypocrisy much?

    • April 19th 2013 @ 9:19am
      kingplaymaker said | April 19th 2013 @ 9:19am | ! Report

      Yes but whatever the rights and wrongs, it’s definitely not in the NZRU’s interest to have SBW dictating one year contracts to them.

      • April 19th 2013 @ 10:12am
        WQ said | April 19th 2013 @ 10:12am | ! Report

        I suppose that depends on how important they believe he is to their set up?
        Traditionally the All Black head honchos would position themselves so as to not have to allow this type of contract. They have normally made getting an All Black Jersey hard to do so as to create value beyond just finances, a tactic that has held players in New Zealand for much less than they could have achieved else where.
        SBW if he decides he wants to return to Union may just test that process somewhat?

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