Sonny Bill Williams' Super League debut ruined by Castleford
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Sonny Bill Williams suffered a frustrating return to rugby league as Toronto Wolfpack slumped to a 28-10 defeat against Castleford at Headingley in their first-ever Super League match on Sunday.
Former All Black Williams ended his six-year absence from the 13-man code when he was introduced from the bench 26 minutes into his new club's opening match of the season.
But Toronto were trailing 10-6 at the time and Williams was unable to improve their fortunes.
The 34-year-old, who converted to Islam in 2009, has signed a two-year deal with Toronto and will expect better days with the Canadian team in the future.
There was much hype about Williams' debut and an agreement was reached ahead of the opening game to ensure he did not have to wear the Super League sponsors' betting logo due to his opposition to the activity.
But in the end, the 'home' game for Toronto, who are not due to stage fixtures in Canada until April, was bossed by Castleford, with new half-back pair Jake Trueman and Danny Richardson the architects of an impressive victory.
Down to just 18 available players, with full-back Gareth O'Brien among the absentees from coach Brian McDermott's 23-man squad, the Wolfpack could face a long and difficult battle to avoid an immediate return to the Championship on the evidence of their opening showing.
Williams knocked on with his first touch and repeated the error shortly afterwards in a clumsy re-introduction into the code.
A one-handed offload from Williams to Kay showed glimpses of what could be but the Wolfpack's defence continued to look suspect.
Hakim Miloudi raised Toronto's spirits when he sprinted 65 metres for an interception try on the hour.
Williams stayed on the field to the end and will surely be better for the runout as the Wolfpack turn their thoughts to their round two fixture at Salford on Saturday.
Williams intends to fly back to New Zealand after round two for the birth of his fourth child but expects to be away for only a week.
© 2020 AFP