Sport

Roll up for the Cirque Du Sonny Bill

Sonny Bill Williams talks to the media during a press conference on July 9, 2012 in Hamilton, New Zealand. Williams has signed a deal with the Japanese rugby club Panasonic Wild Knights and will leave following the completion of the Super Rugby competition.
Sonny Bill Williams talks to the media during a press conference on July 9, 2012 in Hamilton, New Zealand. Williams has signed a deal with the Japanese rugby club Panasonic Wild Knights and will leave following the completion of the Super Rugby competition. Hannah Johnston - Getty Images

SO, Cirque Du Sonny Bill is about to return to rugby league, and all because a now supposedly-ethical defector is honouring a handshake commitment made a few years ago.

Does this sound like the same Sonny Bill Williams who walked out on the Bulldogs in 2008 - mid-season - in the first year of a five-year contract? Obviously, a handshake is more binding in the eyes of SBW than an inked contract.

And even though the world is aware the handshake was with Roosters chairman Nick Polities and that Williams will be playing with the Bondi-based club next year, the dual international has declined to reveal the details of this clandestine arrangement.

But at a rather bizarre press conference this week, he did unveil his plans pre-his NRL return - a 12-match stint in Japanese rugby at the end of the Super Rugby series and another heavyweight boxing bout, his sixth in three years.

What this means is that Williams - a much better player now than he was when he left rugby league four years ago according to former Wallaby Tim Horan - will lob at the Roosters a month before the kick-off to the 2013 NRL season. And, his stint is apparently for just the one season.

Can anyone convince me this is not a case of the tail wagging the dog? Is it not a giant publicity stunt? Is it not all about Sonny Bill Williams? Is it not Cirque Du Sonny Bill?

I concede Sonny Bill is a wonderful athlete. He made an immediate impact when he debuted in the NRL in 2004 as an 18 year-old and was one of the marquee players in the game when he became a Bulldogs deserter.

His impact on rugby union is evidenced by the opinion of Horan, and anyone good enough to play for the All Blacks can write his own ticket. I also have no doubt he will quickly adapt to rugby league, and again play for the Kiwis.

But the $64 question is - do the Roosters need the distraction of Cirque Du Sonny Bill? They showed again on Monday night they are the most ill-disciplined team in the NRL, conceding the penalties 9-2 and completing just 25 of their 38 sets.

Can he honestly be anything other than a massive distraction to a club that is verging on being a disciplinary basket case? This is a club that in recent years has said goodbye to State of Origin players David Shillington, Ash Harrison, Todd Carney, James Tamou and Nate Myles.

If the Roosters have a spare $800,000 in their salary cap - rumoured to be the amount they will be paying SBW - surely someone like Luke Lewis would be a better investment. But then Lewis doesn't like binding contracts either.

 

Ricky's reason

If Ricky Stuart was searching for a motive not to coach the Blues again next year, he need look no further than golden point extra time at Shark Park on Monday night.

As the Sharks and Roosters struggled to salvage two competition points from what had been a scrappy contest, the NSW halves from the 2012 Origin series, Mitchell Pearce and Todd Carney, showed all and sundry they were totally bereft of ideas on how to close out a game.

The panic was manic. At one stage Pearce took a field goal shot 20m out and directly in front - but on the first tackle and with an opponent less than a metre away and attempting a charge down. Both attempted field goals from almost 50m out, which barely left the ground.

Compare this to the calmness and class of Cooper Cronk in Origin III when he coolly potted the winner - and series decider - for Queensland.

Pearce and Carney are both excellent players, but their ability to lead a team around the field has always been debatable. And, if Monday night's debacle is a yardstick, we now know neither has any idea how to structure a win when the result is on the line.

Topics:  nrl, sonny bill williams, sydney roosters



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