Sonny Bill makes triumphant return to NRL

Canberra (AFP) –


Cross-code superstar Sonny Bill Williams added another chapter to his incredible career Saturday, coming off the bench to make a winning return on his third stint in Australian rugby league.

The Auckland-born 35-year-old played 13 minutes on a cold night in Canberra to help the Sydney Roosters ease past the Raiders 18-6.

Williams hadn't played in the competition for six years nor a game of rugby for almost six months and he was clearly a little rusty, but also showed glimpses of his unique blend of power and skill.

"It's a pleasure to be playing alongside these guys, legends of the future," he said of his Roosters teammates.

"There's been a lot of talk about me coming back in and making an impact ... but for me it's just about getting among these guys and learning from a lot of these players.

"I'm really looking forward to the next few weeks."

Williams was recruited after Covid-19 forced his Toronto Wolfpack team to withdraw from England's Super League.

The globe-trotting athlete played with the Roosters in 2013 and 2014, winning a premiership in his first year, adding to the title he won with the Canterbury Bulldogs in 2004.

He has successfully switched between rugby league, rugby union and boxing during a long career, winning two World Cups with the All Blacks and a Super Rugby crown.

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

Roosters chief executive Andrew Abdo said ahead of the game he was already making a big impact.

"He's got the X-factor," he told reporters. "He's an unbelievable athlete and his game has shown how durable he's been in his career."