Things haven’t looked rosy of late for dual-code megastar Sonny Bill Williams. The All Black veteran of 58 caps crossed codes once more to take up a unique opportunity in the 13-a-side code with the Toronto Wolfpack at the start of this year.
The start-up Canadian club had raced up the leagues since being admitted into the British competition hierarchy in 2017, but the future of that organisation is now hugely uncertain, leaving SBW to ponder where his future may lie.
It appears his short-term future is with the NRL’s Sydney Roosters, but could a return to rugby union beckon before he hangs up his boots? Here, we ponder those possibilities.
A fast learner
Williams enjoyed a remarkable career in rugby. He started his tenure in the code with Toulon in 2008 and quickly blossomed into one of the finest players to grace both league and union. He proved himself a fast learner and earned his first New Zealand cap within two years; many more would follow.
He would continue his club career in New Zealand, around a two-year spell back in league, before enjoying a lucrative foray into Japanese rugby with the Panasonic Wild Knights, with commitments at that stage of his career moulding nicely around his burgeoning boxing ambitions.
Williams would return to Super Rugby with the Blues in Australia in 2017, while continuing to rack up the caps for the All Blacks. A recall to the side at this stage of his career could be a big ask, but it’s certain that there’d no shortage of suitors in the code.
A return to rugby?
Sonny Bill has played his entire career at the top of rugby, whether that’s in league or union, and it’s difficult to imagine him continuing at anything other than the elite level. Although part of Williams’ package with Toronto saw him receive a share in the organisation’s business interests, so it seems he’s open to investing in the right project.
Down under, the Brumbies are rated by Space Casino as favorites to taste success in this year’s Super Rugby competition, and it’s likely they’ll challenge at the top of the league again in 2021. They could be an option, while the top Kiwi team has been Crusaders, and if SBW wants to end his career in New Zealand then they could be a good call.
Then there are the left-field opportunities. A return to Japan could fit around Sonny Bill’s ambitions as he makes plans for a career post-playing, while big money opportunities perhaps await in France with a possible return to Toulon.
As things stand, SBW remains tight-lipped on his plans for 2021, but it’s clear he’d still command an impressive following if he does pursue a return to rugby. And, at 35-years-old, there’s likely enough in the tank for the dual-code superstar to wow supporters for at least one more year.