Former All Blacks centre Sonny Bill Williams has reportedly agreed to the biggest contract in the history of both rugby union and league, accepting a $10-million deal to return to the 13-man code signing with Canadian side the Toronto Wolfpack.
The 34-year-old won two World Cup titles with New Zealand in 2011 and 2015 and last played professional rugby league with NRL side the Sydney Roosters back in 2014.
According to the New Zealand Herald, Nine News reporter Danny Weidler revealed that Williams had accepted the astonishing, two-year deal with English Super League side the Toronto Wolfpack.
‘He’s made his mind up to play for the Toronto Wolfpack who play in the English Super League,’ said Weidler. ‘The deal is stunning – $10m for two years’ work. Incredible money.’
Only £150,000 of Williams’ wages will count on the salary cap due to the marquee-player ruling, which was implemented to attract major signings into the competition. The dual-code international’s signature for the Wolfpack supersedes any other deal struck in the competition’s history.
Williams recently returned home from Japan after the All Blacks picked up the bronze medal at the World Cup, after beating Wales 40-17 in the third-place playoff.
The multi-talented sportsman will return to the code where he began his career as a teenager with the Bulldogs in the NRL.
Williams’s return to league – the sport in which he began before departing for rugby union in 2008, then returning to league in 2013-14, winning the NRL title twice – means almost every single team the Wolfpack visit in 2020 receive a boost in gate receipts. Williams’ debut would probably come in a double-header at Headingley in February, as the Wolfpack start against Castleford alongside a game between Leeds and Hull.
Toronto’s head coach Brian McDermott revealed last month that his team had been given word that the 58-Test All Black had an interest in joining the team, saying they wanted to bring in a David Beckham-type player to do for the Wolfpack what the former Manchester United midfielder did for MLS side LA Galaxy.