Williams' contract cleared for comeback
SYDNEY (AFP) –
The highly anticipated return to rugby league of former All Black Sonny Bill Williams was approved by Australian officials on Friday, just days before his first scheduled game.
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 National Rugby League (NRL) comeback with the Sydney Roosters on Thursday, his one-year contract had yet to be ratified by salary cap auditor Ian Schubert.
Clubs had until March 1 to lodge signed statutory declarations that they complied with the salary cap and the NRL had sought extra paperwork from the Roosters on Williams.
But the Roosters confirmed late Friday that the NRL had advised them that all conditions had now been met and the contract had been granted approval for registration.
“Consequently, he will be available for the Sydney Roosters’ season opener against the South Sydney Rabbitohs… on March 7,” the club said in a statement.
Roosters’ chief operating officer Brian Canavan said the club had worked closely with the NRL on the matter and “were comfortable with the proceedings”.
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.”