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Dublin: 16 °C Sunday 12 July, 2020

Williams confirms switch to rugby league side Toronto Wolfpack

The former All Black will join the club ahead of their debut season in the UK Super League.

Williams is returning to rugby league.
Williams is returning to rugby league.

SONNY BILL WILLIAMS has confirmed his return to rugby league after signing for Canadian side Toronto Wolfpack.

The former All Black, who won the last of his 58 international caps in New Zealand’s Bronze Final defeat of Wales at the World Cup, is reported to have signed a deal that will see him earn in the region of £2.6million a year.

The club have also been linked with big-money moves for England internationals Manu Tuilagi and Ben Te’o.

Torono are a new addition to the UK Super League, and Williams will be unveiled at a press conference at Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium next Thursday.

In a short video posted on Twitter, Williams said he is determined to bring success to his new team.

“Hey guys, just a quick message to the Toronto fans and team,” Williams said.

“I’m looking forward to getting over there. I just want to say that I’m not coming over there for a holiday, although my son might be, I’m coming over to do some work and, God willing, we can have a successful season on and off the field.”

Toronto chairman and chief executive Bob Hunter likened the signing to David Beckham’s move to Major League Soccer in 2003.

“The excitement he will bring to the sport of rugby league in this country will be incredible.  Having someone of his talent join the Wolfpack will greatly raise the profile of the club, and also help move the game forward globally,” Hunter said.

“Sonny is a phenomenal athlete and we believe he is rugby’s LeBron James and his addition to our league is comparable to when David Beckham joined LA Galaxy.”

The former Blues player also posted a separate message on the All Blacks website.

“I have been privileged and blessed to have been given so many opportunities in New Zealand rugby, starting with Canterbury back in 2010, as well as the Crusaders and Chiefs, Counties Manukau and, of course, the Blues and All Blacks.  I’d like to thank all those fans in New Zealand and around the world who have supported me,” Williams said.

“I’d also like to thank everyone involved in the All Blacks family.  I never dreamed that I’d play in the black jersey for 10 years playing alongside some of the legends of the game, and I’m grateful for the support of so many people in helping me grow as a footy player over that time.

“Finally, to the players I’ve been privileged enough to play with. I’ve enjoyed every moment being with the brothers and that will be the biggest thing I will miss: the camaraderie and fun with my fellow players and being privileged to suit up with them and go out and do what we love. It’s been a pleasure.”

A multi-talented sportsman, Williams is a double Rugby World Cup winner, Olympian, dual rugby and rugby league international and New Zealand boxing champion. He made his All Blacks debut against England in 2010, and scored 13 tries in a distinguished international career.

The 34-year-old initially made his name in rugby league before switching codes to play union. He returned to play league for a brief period in the early 2010s. He won Grand Finals with NRL clubs Sydney Roosters and Canterbury Bulldogs, while he was also a member of the New Zealand team that reached a Rugby League World Cup final in 2013.

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