Sonny Bill Williams

Sonny Bill Williams

Infobox rugby league biography
playername = Sonny Bill Williams


image_size = 200px
caption =
fullname = Sonny William Williams
nickname = SBW, Money Bill
dateofbirth = birth date and age|1985|08|03
placeofbirth = Auckland
countryofbirth = New Zealand
height = height|m=1.91
weight = convert|108|kg|stlb|abbr=on
school =Mount Albert Grammar
position = rlp|SR|LK|CN
club1 = leagueicon|Bulldogs|size=16 Bulldogs
year1start = 2004
year1end = 2008
appearances1 = 73
tries1 = 31
goals1 = 0
fieldgoals1 = 0
points1 = 124
teamA = leagueicon|New Zealand Kiwis|16 New Zealand
yearAstart = 2004
yearAend = 2008
appearancesA = 7
triesA = 2
goalsA = 0
fieldgoalsA = 0
pointsA = 8
ru_currentclub = leagueicon|North Sydney Bears|16 Toulon
ru_position = wing|capital=yes
ru_club1 = leagueicon|North Sydney Bears|16 Toulon
ru_year1start = 2008
ru_year1end = present
ru_appearances1 = 1
ru_tries1 = 1
ru_goals1 = 0
ru_fieldgoals1 = 0
ru_points1 = 5
updated = 27 August 2008
source =

Sonny Bill Williams (born Sonny William Williams on August 3, 1985 in Auckland, New Zealand attended Mount Albert Grammar School) is a professional rugby union player currently aligned to French club, RC Toulonnais.

Williams is most notable for his rugby league career in which he represented New Zealand at international level playing either in the second row or at lock as his positions of choice, though he can also play at centre. At the time of converting to union, Williams was contracted to the Bulldogs Rugby League Football Club in the National Rugby League, leaving Australia in July 2008 in controversial circumstances.cite web|url=http://www.nrllive.com.au/2009-nrl-player-movements/|title=2009 NRL Player Movements|publisher=NRL Live|date=2008-10-04|accessdate=2008-10-04]

Career

Early years

Williams was playing in the S.G. Ball Cup for Under-18 players where in 2001 he was named 'SG Ball Player-of-the-Year'. In 2002, he went up the ranks and quickly became a starting player in the forward pack for the Bulldogs Jersey Flegg Cup side. The following year in 2003 Williams worked his way up again into Premier League, again cementing a starting spot in the side. As each year progressed Williams moved through the Bulldogs ranks and in Round 1 of the 2004 season, at only 18 years old, he made his NRL debut against the Parramatta Eels at Telstra Stadium.


=2004: NRL debut, International debut, overseas offers= In his debut performance in which, playing at centre, he dominated in defence, set up a number of tries and scored one for himself on debut. In the same year, he was selected to represent his country after only a handful of NRL matches and on April 23rd made his debut for New Zealand in the 2004 ANZAC Test against Australia. He went on through the year to play 15 first grade matches and firmly established himself in the Bulldogs squad. Furthermore, Williams was fortunate enough to experience Premiership success in his rookie year, playing off the bench in the Bulldogs 16 - 13 victory over the Sydney Roosters in the 2004 Grand Final. Sonny Bill Williams capped off a magnificent debut season by being presented with the International Newcomer of the Year Award and was named in the BBC's 2004 World XIII squad. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/rugby_league/4268649.stm BBC SPORT | Rugby League | Williams has world at his feet ] ] He was also in close contention for the Dally M Rookie of the Year Award but lost to Brisbane Broncos fullback Karmichael Hunt. As his contract was due to expire, Williams received several lucrative offers to attempt to lure him away from the Bulldogs, with the largest being from Super League club St Helens RFC in the UK worth about $3 million [http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2005/03/09/1110316096193.html] [http://www.smh.com.au/media/2005/03/09/1110316095529.html] Despite this and many other offers, Williams decided to stay loyal to the club and signed on for a further two years with the Bulldogs. However, revelations later emerged about the veracity of this claim including St Helens RFC chairman Eamonn McManus stating "No, we never made Sonny Bill Williams an offer in 2004,... I remember it well because Sonny was at the height of his powers that year... We had had some initial discussions (with Williams' management) but we certainly hadn't put an offer to him. And if we had, it would've been nowhere near the amounts now being bandied about." [http://www.news.com.au/dailytelegraph/story/0,22049,24156957-5001023,00.html]

2005: Injuries and Disappointments

After making a huge impact on the NRL in his debut year, Williams had a disappointingly short 2005 season. A severe knee injury plus several other minor injuries restricted Williams to only five games through the year Fact|date=June 2007 and he subsequently missed several international fixtures for New Zealand. Williams had publicly expressed his frustration at his limited participation through the season stating "It seems like I've had injury after injury,". "More than anything, when you're not on the field a lot, it's tough mentally. You've got to be pretty strong mentally when you have injuries, and I've had a few." [ [http://www.smh.com.au/news/league/sonny-bill-slips-back-under-the-radar/2006/11/12/1162661955406.html?page=2 Sonny Bill slips back under the radar - League - Sport - smh.com.au ] ] Williams would later dismiss claims he was injury prone as "Bullsh*t stuff" [ [http://www.leaguehq.com.au/news/news/bill-brushes-off-brittleness-bunkum/2007/09/17/1189881433927.html Bill brushes off brittleness bunkum - leaguehq.com.au ] ] .


=2006: Improvement= Williams had a greatly improved 2006 season after the disaster of 2005. He stayed relatively injury-free throughout the year playing in 21 matches, scoring 8 tries and just missing out on a Grand Final berth losing to eventual Premiers the Brisbane Broncos at the last hurdle in the Prelimanary Final. However, having been mostly injury free throughout the year, off-season surgery forced him to miss the Tri-Nations for the Kiwis for the second year running.


=2007: Speculation and Further Injuries= At the start of the 2007 season, Williams' contract status was a frequent news item in the Australia print media. All speculation was ended when Williams re-signed with the Bulldogs on the March 9, 2007, with a 5 year contract believed to be worth over $2.5 million that would have seen him stay with the club through to the 2012 season [ [http://www.smh.com.au/news/league/dogs-tie-up-sonny-bill-for-five-years/2007/03/08/1173166891498.html?s_cid=rss_smh I want to be a Bulldog for life: Sonny Bill - League - Sport - smh.com.au ] ] Commenting on the re-signing, Williams said: "I'm happy to be staying here with the boys and I'm happy to be here with the Club. I want to be a Bulldog for life. The club is just as much apart of me a part of me as I am of the club. I love the Bulldogs." Coach Steve Folkes said: "Sonny is a great athlete, a great footballer and will only get better over the next few years." [ [http://www.bulldogs.com.au/main.php?page=article&id=784 Mitsubishi Electric Bulldogs - Official Website ] ] When it came to the football Williams again was strong playing in 21 matches and scoring 14 tries. Unfortunately the season didn't end well as Williams broke his forearm in a tackle on Nathan Hindmarsh during the Semi Final against the Parramatta Eels and went straight from the field. Although the Dogs ended up losing the match and he wouldn't miss any club matches, once again Williams was ruled out from representing his country in the post-season 2007 Great Britain Tour due to the broken arm. For the first time in his career Williams was nominated for 'Second-Rower of the Year' at the 2007 Dally M Awards but lost the award to Manly Warringah Sea Eagles second-rower Anthony Watmough.

Departure from the Bulldogs

On 26 July 2008, Williams departed Australia from Sydney Airport, fleeing "the NRL, bound for an immediate switch to French rugby union club Toulon", coached by former All Black, Tana Umaga. [cite news|author=David Riccio|publisher="The Courier Mail"|title=Sonny Bill Williams leaves Bulldogs for France |url=http://www.news.com.au/couriermail/sport/nrl/story/0,26746,24081888-5003409,00.html |accessdate=2008-07-27|date=2008-07-26]

Williams' manager, Khoder Nasser, confirmed the player had left the country. Suggestions that Williams had signed with French Rugby union club Toulon were initially denied by the club president, Mourad Boudjellal.cite news|publisher="Fox Sports News (Australia)"|title=Dogs won't cop SBW's walkout |url=http://www.foxsports.com.au/story/0,8659,24082022-23214,00.html |accessdate=2008-07-26|date=2008-07-26] [cite news|author=Adrian Proszenko and Will Swanton|publisher="Fairfax Digital"|title=Sonny Bill Williams flees league |url=http://www.leaguehq.com.au/news/news/french-bulldog-on-the-loose/2008/07/26/1216492800240.html |accessdate=2008-07-28|date=2008-07-07] However, on 5 August 2008, Toulon announced that Williams had signed with the club on a one year deal with the option of a one year extension. [cite news|author=Belinda Kontominas|publisher="Fairfax Digital"|title=Court one day, rugby the next for Sonny |url=http://www.rugbyheaven.co.nz/4645428a22363.html |accessdate=2008-08-06|date=2008-08-06] Toulon's President Mourad Boudjellal has been reported as saying that Williams could make his debut in a "friendly" against another local side by Friday 7 August 2008.cite web |title=Sonny Bill could debut this week: Toulon boss|url=http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2008/08/04/2322832.htm|accessdate=2008-08-04 |publisher=http://www.abc.net.au Australian Broadcasting Corporation] [cite news|publisher="Fairfax Digital"|title=Williams signs for Toulon |url=http://www.leaguehq.com.au/news/news/sonny-bill-signs-up/2008/08/05/1217702003957.html |accessdate=2008-08-08|date=2008-08-05] Williams holds a Samoan passport, therefore qualifying him as a Kolpak player.

Legal action by the Bulldogs is pending.cite news|author=Steve Jancetic and Vincent Morello|publisher="Fox Sports News (Australia)"|title=Williams summoned back to Australia |url=http://www.foxsports.com.au/story/0,8659,24091420-23214,00.html |accessdate=2008-07-28|date=2008-07-28]

He has been named in the New Zealand training squad for the 2008 Rugby League World Cup.cite web|url=http://www.skysports.com/story/0,19528,12196_3949034,00.html|title=Kiwis select Sonny Bill|publisher=Sky Sports|date=2008-08-08|accessdate=2008-08-08]

Reaction

NRL Chief David Gallop called on the International Rugby Board (IRB) to block Williams' from switching codes. He went on to say ""This can't be good for either of the codes. Contractual stability is important to both, and if they don't get involved then they're condoning a form of international piracy." [cite news|publisher="NZPA"|title=Gallop calls on IRB to block Sonny Bill switch |url=http://nz.sports.yahoo.com/news/article/-/4828739/gallop-calls-irb-block-sonny-switch |accessdate=2008-07-27|date=2008-07-27] [cite news|publisher="The Australian"|title=NRL boss David Gallop implores IRB to make stand |url=http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,24085002-5012431,00.html |accessdate=2008-07-27|date=2008-07-27] The IRB responded by saying it had no jurisdiction over club football and that "the club is entitled to take on whatever player they see fit." [http://www.nzherald.co.nz/section/4/story.cfm?c_id=4&objectid=10523924]

Williams' Bulldogs team-mates were not told in advance of Williams' departure and were reportedly in shock, and angry, at the lack of respect shown by the sudden departure. [cite news|author=David Riccio and James Phelps|publisher="The Daily Telegraph (Sydney)"|title=Sonny's mates angry at lack of respect |url=http://www.news.com.au/dailytelegraph/story/0,22049,24083070-5001023,00.html |accessdate=2008-07-27|date=2008-07-27]

In a response to the criticism of Willams move to Rugby Union, friend of Williams and former rugby league player Anthony Mundine pointed out the lack of salary caps in other jobs and also said "where is the loyalty from the NRL to the players? There is no loyalty". [http://www.canberratimes.com.au/news/national/national/sport/the-man-is-in-brother-sonny-bills-corner/1229894.aspx]

On 28 July, the Bulldogs, with the support of the NRL, sought an injunction with the Supreme Court, which, if passed, would prevent Williams from taking up a rumoured $3 million, two-year deal to switch codes.cite news|author=Steve Jancetic and Vincent Morello|publisher="Fox Sports News (Australia)"|title=Williams summoned back to Australia |url=http://www.foxsports.com.au/story/0,8659,24091420-23214,00.html |accessdate=2008-07-28|date=2008-07-28] Player manager Khoder Nasser has also been subpoenaed to provide documents relating to information on Williams's whereabouts by Thursday.cite news|author=Steve Jancetic and Vincent Morello|publisher="Fox Sports News (Australia)"|title=Williams summoned back to Australia |url=http://www.foxsports.com.au/story/0,8659,24091420-23214,00.html |accessdate=2008-07-28|date=2008-07-28]

Controversies

Sonny Bill Williams has been involved in a number of minor controversial off-field incidents. On August 17, 2005 it was revealed he had been charged with drunk driving; the Bulldogs fined Williams $10,000 over the incident and he was forced to appear in Waverley Local Court on September 7. He was convicted of drunk driving, with a blood alcohol level of .075. [ [http://www.smh.com.au/news/league/sonny-bill-gets-fivemonth-driving-ban/2005/11/01/1130720527034.html Sonny Bill gets five-month driving ban - League - Sport - smh.com.au ] ]

In 2007, Williams was caught in a compromising position with Australian model/ironwoman Candice Falzon. Several witnesses saw Williams and Falzon enter a toilet cubicle together at the Clovelly Hotel in Sydney. A photo taken by a mobile phone of the incident was published on the "Daily Telegraph" website. Williams later apologised to his girlfriend over this incident. [ [http://www.nzherald.co.nz/category/story.cfm?c_id=79&objectid=10434378 Sonny Bill forgiven by girlfriend after sex scandal - 15 Apr 2007 - League news - NZ Herald ] ] . He said he was "ashamed and embarrassed" about his drunken encounter with Candice Falzon. [ [http://www.leaguehq.com.au/news/news/sorry-bill-williams/2007/04/14/1175971424014.html Sorry Bill Williams - leaguehq.com.au ] ]

On June 17, 2007, Williams was caught by police urinating on a wall in a dark alley-way near a well known nightclub in Cronulla and was handed an infringement notice and fine worth $650. [ [http://www.nzherald.co.nz/section/4/story.cfm?c_id=4&objectid=10446335 League: Sonny Bill caught with his pants down - 18 Jun 2007 - nzherald: Sports news - New Zealand and International Sport news and results ] ] Williams has subsequently admitted he has an alcohol problem and would seek professional help for his problem. [ [http://www.leaguehq.com.au/news/news/i-have-a-drinking-problem-sonny-bill/2007/06/18/1182018995426.html I have a drinking problem: Sonny Bill - leaguehq.com.au ] ] [ [http://www.nzherald.co.nz/category/story.cfm?c_id=79&objectid=10446519 League: Sonny Bill takes the pledge - 19 Jun 2007 - League news - NZ Herald ] ] He also said in an official statement that he would be "taking drastic measures to make sure this doesn’t happen again." [ [http://www.bulldogs.com.au/main.php?page=article&id=1081 Mitsubishi Electric Bulldogs - Official Website ] ] cite web|url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/rugby_league/6766835.stm|title= Williams reveals alcohol problem|publisher=BBC|date=2007-06-19|accessdate=2007-06-19]

Statistics

Honours

Individual
*2004: International Newcomer of the Year
* 2004: World XIII

References

External links

* [http://bulldogs.com.au/main.php?page=player&id=659&grade=nrl Sonny Bill Williams Official Profile]
* [http://nzrl.sitesuite.ws/page/sonny_bill_williams.html Sonny Bill Williams NZRL Profile]
* [http://www.nrl.com/tabid/10270/default.aspx?playerid=124 Sonny Bill Williams NRL Profile]
* [http://stats.rleague.com/rl/scorers/players/Sonny_Bill_Williams.html Official SBW Playing Statistics]
* [http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/rugby_league/4268649.stm BBC Article] "Williams has world at his feet"
* [http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/rugby_league/get_involved/4320222.stm BBC Article] "Making big hits with Sonny Bill"
* [http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/stories/s2317477.htm Sonny's runner] Essay on Williams' 2008 mid-season move by noted Rugby League writer and historian Sean Fagan


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