Sonny Bill Williams confirms Sydney Roosters return

Sydney (AFP) –


Cross-code superstar Sonny Bill Williams confirmed Wednesday that he will return to Australia's NRL with the Sydney Roosters after COVID-19 forced his Toronto Wolfpack to withdraw from England's Super League.

Williams, who has won two Rugby World Cups with the All Blacks and two NRL premierships in Australia, said he would arrive in Sydney on Thursday and undergo two weeks' mandatory quarantine.

"It's just the challenge that I get so excited about, it lights that fire inside of you," Williams told Australia's Channel Nine before departing from Britain.

Williams played with the Roosters in 2013 and 2014, winning a premiership in his first year with the club, and said he had remained in contact with Roosters chairman Nick Politis.

"Nick hit me up and asked if I had a couple of months in me to come back," he said.

"To be honest, I hadn't trained for a bit. I'd been on holiday mode. We actually booked flights, me and my wife booked flights for a little family European holiday."

Williams, who will turn 35 next week, was at a loose end after the Canada-based Wolfpack said COVID-19 had created "overwhelming financial challenges" that meant it could not compete as Super League's only transatlantic club.

Williams is still under contract with the Wolfpack, which would normally bar him from playing in the NRL, but the game's hierarchy bent the rules to allow him in due to "exceptional circumstances" created by the virus.

The New Zealand citizen also needed a special exemption from the government officials to fly into Sydney with his wife and children, as only Australian citizens are being allowed in at the moment.

Once quarantine is completed, he could potentially take the field for the Roosters' round 15 match against Wests Tigers on August 22.

Williams played 58 times for the All Blacks, winning World Cups in 2011 and 2015, as well as numerous Bledisloe Cups and Rugby Championships.

Other honours include a Super Rugby title in 2012 and NRL premierships in 2004 and 2013.

He also represented New Zealand in rugby sevens at the 2016 Olympics and triumphed in all seven of his professional heavyweight boxing bouts, winning the New Zealand title in 2012.