Williams awaits comeback clearance
SYDNEY (AFP) –
Former All Black Sonny Bill Williams’s highly anticipated return to rugby league is yet to be approved by Australian officials, just days away from his first scheduled game, a report said Friday.
The multi-talented sportsman walked out mid-season on the Canterbury Bulldogs five years ago to play French rugby union and has since been a member of the World Cup-winning New Zealand team of 2011 and even dabbled in boxing.
But with less than a week to go before his rugby league comeback with the Sydney Roosters on Thursday, Williams’s one-year contract has yet to be ratified by salary cap auditor Ian Schubert, The Sydney Morning Herald said.
“We are waiting for some information that has been requested from the club,” National Rugby League (NRL) spokesman John Brady told the paper.
“Everyone is aware of the need to process this as soon as possible.”
Roosters chief executive Brian Canavan said the club would provide the requested paperwork, adding that he did not foresee problems, although details were not revealed.
“The registration is conditional on some paperwork to be supplied,” he said.
“There’s a bit more detail (needed) in some of the correspondence we sent through, which is virtually assembled now.”
Clubs must lodge signed statutory declarations that they comply with the salary cap by March 1.
The return of Williams to rugby league comes less than a month after he won a controversial 10-round heavyweight boxing bout against veteran South African Frans Botha.
NRL chief executive Dave Smith has acknowledged the player’s star power.
“I’ve watched him box, I’ve watched him play rugby union, I’ve watched him play rugby league,” Smith told the paper.
“He’ll be great for rugby league. I hear he’s a pretty top bloke as well.”