SBW set for shock Sydney Test return

Sonny Bill Williams is poised to make a shock return to Test match rugby league for minnows Samoa in Western Sydney next year.

The Daily Telegraph can reveal Samoa is chasing Williams for the one-off Test against England on June 20, most likely at Parramatta's Bankwest Stadium.

The Test match would be the part of the NRL's mid-season representative weekend and be Williams' first in Sydney since representing New Zealand against Australia in the 2008 Centenary Test at the SCG.

Samoan coach Matt Parish hasn't directly contacted Williams but third parties are pushing the former Rooster, Bulldog and All Black superstar to consider representing Toa Samoa.

Williams will return to rugby league next season having signed a reported $5 million a season contract with Toronto Wolfpack, the Canadian franchise recently promoted to England's Super League.

England's team of players will be permitted to leave Super League for a fortnight to play in Australia. Samoa hope Williams will also have the desire to travel to Australia to represent Samoa.

Williams' availability has officials believing a sellout crowd of around 30,000 would pack Bankwest Stadium.

Samoan officials also hope that luring Williams would inspire other Pacific players to choose them over rival nations. New Zealand will also be trying to secure Williams.

Williams, 34, has Samoan heritage through his father, John, while his cousin Tim Nanai-Williams has represented Samoa in rugby union.

"Sonny Bill would be massive for our team in terms of what we are trying to achieve," Parish said.

 

Sonny Bill Williams played for New Zealand in the 2008 Centenary Test at the SCG. Picture: AP
Sonny Bill Williams played for New Zealand in the 2008 Centenary Test at the SCG. Picture: AP

 

"My indications are that he is very keen. I definitely think playing for Samoa would appeal to Sonny at this stage of his career.

"We will be exploring every option. He is a leader on and off the field. Everywhere he goes Sonny Bill has a massive influence.

"Anything is a possibility. His leadership would be invaluable off the field and, on the field, his footy speaks for itself.

"I reckon we would fill Bankwest Stadium for the England game if we can get the players we want.

"Sonny Bill's presence on a football field is enormous. Look at what he did when he returned to the Roosters in 2013 … they won the premiership.

"I haven't spoken to Sonny directly but I know people who have."

Asked did he think New Zealand would also hunt Williams, Parish said: "They'd be crazy not to."

Samoa also want Williams for the 2021 World Cup in England and for post-season Tests - possibly against arch rivals Tonga - after 2020.

A venue for the June Test against England has yet to be finalised but Bankwest Stadium has firmed as early favourite.

After losing four successive Oceania Cup Tests as Great Britain coach, England has yet to make an offer to retain an off-contract Wayne Bennett.

Parish said his nation wanted a 2020 Test against Tonga.

"It's like a Pacific Islands State of Origin," he said.

"Mate against mate, brother against brother. While there is a lot of love, there is also a lot of competitiveness and hate when the blue team takes on the red team."


State Forests reopen after fires

premium_icon State Forests reopen after fires

A NUMBER of Northern Rivers State Forests have reopened to the public after rain...

The search to uncover toxic danger on our firegrounds

premium_icon The search to uncover toxic danger on our firegrounds

World-class researchers study soils from across the Northern Rivers

PHOTOS: Chips fly in Brunswick Heads

premium_icon PHOTOS: Chips fly in Brunswick Heads

Celebrating Brunswick Heads' Festival of the Fish n’ Chips.