SYDNEY – Canadian club Toronto Wolfpack has set its sights on All Blacks superstar Sonny Bill Williams and is ready to table a big offer to lure him back to rugby league, a report said Friday.
Williams, who has been hampered by injuries in recent seasons, hinted this month that 2019 could be his last year with the Auckland Blues and possibly the New Zealand national team.
His contract with New Zealand Rugby and his rugby union club expires after the World Cup in Japan, and Fox Sports Australia said he was gravitating towards a move to Canada and back to league.
The ambitious Wolfpack, who play in England's second-tier Betfred Championship and are aiming for promotion to the Super League, said they were hopeful of bringing him to Canada on a one-year deal.
“We are working towards making Sonny Bill Williams a Wolfpack player for 2020,” club co-owner David Argyle, an Australian, told the broadcaster.
“Having someone of his talent join the Wolfpack would greatly raise the profile of the club, but also help move the game forward globally.
“Sonny is a phenomenal athlete,” he added. “He is rugby's LeBron James and we see his recruitment as bigger than when David Beckham joined LA Galaxy. He is box office and puts bums on seats.”
Fox said the club, under the guidance of former Leeds Rhinos coach Brian McDermott, was prepared pay around Aus$5 million (US$3.5 million) to entice Williams, 33, back to league, which he played for seven seasons.
Williams' manager Khoder Nasser would not confirm or deny the approach.
“I don't think it's appropriate to distract Sonny from what is a monumental season for him,” he told Fox.
“My priority is to make sure Sonny is focused on this year with the Blues and making the All Blacks squad. What is to come afterwards will take care of itself.”
Agence France-Presse (AFP)