Dual-code star Israel Folau was contacted about a possible return to the NRL with Wests Tigers, say reports – although no formal approach was made.
To say that the Toronto Wolfpack have made shock waves around the rugby league world lately is one of the biggest understatements in the recent memory of the sport.
It’s been widely reported that the cross-code star has signed a two-year deal to return to league with the newly promoted Wolfpack in the UK’s Super League. The Wolfpack themselves have remained quiet on it. Williams was also reportedly offered a minority ownership stake in the club.
Sonny Bill Williams is a name that transcends the traditional boundaries of rugby in both codes. SBW is a name that people recognise around the world. He was recently featured on HBO’s Real Sports and was profiled by Bryant Gumbel. He’s a multi-sport athlete.
At 34, Williams is an older player but this is a name that makes people truly see that Wolfpack owner David Argyle and the club are going to do what they can to make the Wolfpack a truly global entity and bring the game into the 21st Century.
Rugby league has the potential to be so much bigger than it is, and with the Wolfpack leading the way in signing big-name players, this is a sport that may soon enter the mainstream of Canadian sporting circles.
Williams’ recruitment has been likened to when David Beckham went over to Major League Soccer to play for the LA Galaxy in 2007. The Beckham move revived the presence of soccer in North America and with the New Zealander in Canada, you’ll see one of the most recognisable faces in the game help further shape the passion for league in a country with a growing desire to see more of it.
Williams can give kids in Toronto, Markham, Brampton and other parts of Ontario someone to look up to and try to be like as players in their backyard.
Toronto is one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world and one of the biggest media hubs in North America. When 2020 rolls around, you will see SBW all over the city. This is someone who you take to schools, city hall, NBA, MLB, and NHL games.
He’ll become one of the biggest athletes in the city. At times, it can seem like all you see on Canadian sports TV is hockey if you’re an outsider, but when Sonny Bill Williams is making the papers on this side of the globe and is on our sportscasts, you know he’s something special.
On Twitter and other social media platforms, fans from around the world are planning Super League trips to see the Wolfpack play either at Lamport Stadium or abroad. Williams in Toronto is moving the needle for many fans of the game. He answers the question that many skeptics ask: “what does the Wolfpack bring to rugby league?”
Wolfpack management apparently are not done yet as they also have their eyes on union pair Christian Wade and Manu Tuilagi.
The interest is also showing that in Toronto they don’t just want to be a team that hangs around mid-table of Super League.
The Wolfpack are coming to the highest level of rugby league in the UK looking to win. A new era of this sport is on the horizon and it’s being lead from a place that 20 years ago probably wouldn’t have been possible.
Rugby league’s landscape is leaving the heartlands and going global – a move that should be welcomed by all for the future of the game.