Game not money will retain SBW: NRL boss

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    NRL chief executive Dave Smith is banking on the standard of competition and not cold hard cash as the key to rugby league’s chances of holding onto Sonny Bill Williams and regaining the services of Israel Folau.

    Speculation over the futures of code hoppers Williams and Folau have gathered pace with each passing performance by the pair, Smith admitting the NRL was desperate to hold onto the former All Black.

    With Folau taking to rugby union with far greater success than his switch to AFL, the Australian Rugby Union is believed to be ramping up its negotiations to keep the former rugby league star in the 15-man game.

    On the back of Sydney Roosters coach Trent Robinson issuing an impassioned plea for the NRL to do everything in its powers to have Williams and Folau playing rugby league, Smith said the desire to keep Williams was obvious.

    “We want people in our game like Sonny Bill and of course we want him to stay,” Smith said.

    “He’s one of many wonderful athletes in our game – you got GI (Greg Inglis) here, Sonny Bill, the list is endless.

    “It would be great to keep people like Sonny in the game. I think it’s really important for the game.”

    Asked about what message he would deliver Folau – who was set to return to rugby league with Parramatta before salary cap complications delivered him to rugby union – Smith said: “It’s the greatest game of all.

    “Look at what goes on on the field inside those white lines.

    “It’s incredible.

    “We’ve got great athletes and great performances. The game is as competitive as it’s ever been, it’s in as good shape as it’s ever been and that’s without the biff.”

    © AAP 2018

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    The Crowd Says (3)

    • July 3rd 2013 @ 3:19am
      Shungmao said | July 3rd 2013 @ 3:19am | ! Report

      Would Smith really of sad that last sentence ….. Seriously needs an upper cut.

    • July 3rd 2013 @ 9:13pm
      Katipo - Wallaby supporter said | July 3rd 2013 @ 9:13pm | ! Report

      And for an elite athlete what new challenges will rugby league present to Israel Folau? I suspect the reasons he left in the first place, having achieved everything in league, will prevent him returning for now. Maybe later in the twilight if his career. But I’m purely speculating I guess we’ll know when reveals his decision. I hope he stays with union.

      I’m not that interested in SBW returning to union mainly because he plays for NZ teams so not much help to Australian rugby. I hope he stays in league.

    • July 4th 2013 @ 9:12am
      Ex-pat Stephen Jones of Virginia USA said | July 4th 2013 @ 9:12am | ! Report

      I am a lifelong Raiders supporter born and bred in Brisbane. I love my footy. I now live in America.

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