Although more than half a dozen NRL clubs have reportedly expressed interest in signing Sonny Bill Williams, his return faces several hurdles.
Although more than half a dozen NRL clubs have reportedly expressed interest in signing Sonny Bill Williams, his return faces several hurdles.

‘You’re dreaming’: NRL’s grim SBW dilemma

Cronulla Sharks great Paul Gallen has lashed out at speculation dual-code star Sonny Bill Williams will make a shock return to the NRL this season.

After the Toronto Wolfpack announced they were withdrawing from the UK Super League, murmurs started circulating about whether Williams would sign with an NRL club for the remainder of the 2020 season.

The 34-year-old has not competed in the NRL since completing his two-year stint with the Sydney Roosters in 2014.

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Although some clubs are capable of signing Williams under their incomplete salary cap, Gallen warned rugby league fans should not get their hopes up.

"He's almost my age. He hasn't played in the game since 2014," Gallen told 2GB radio.

"He's not the same Sonny Bill Williams that we all remember.

"To think he's going to come back to the NRL and be the player that he was in 2013, you're dreaming."

Paul Gallen farewells the crowd before the 2019 NRL Grand Final.
Paul Gallen farewells the crowd before the 2019 NRL Grand Final.

However, if Williams were to make an NRL comeback, Gallen hoped the Canterbury Bulldogs premiership player would sign with either his former club or the struggling New Zealand Warriors.

"He walked out on the Bulldogs in 2008. Go back and help the Bulldogs get off the bottom of the ladder. Or you know what, he's a proud Kiwi - go back and help the Warriors out," Gallen said on Tuesday.

"He is a superstar and he draws a crowd. I'd almost make an exemption for him to go back to the Bulldogs or the Warriors for 10 games."

But as reported by Paul Kent in The Daily Telegraph, the Canterbury Bulldogs have shown little interest in recruiting Williams, having already spent a month convincing the Federal Government to allow star prop Luke Thompson entry into Australia.

Due to his New Zealand passport, Williams would likely be required to quarantine in New Zealand for two weeks before travelling to Australia, where he would spend another 14 days in quarantine.

On Tuesday, the Sydney Morning Herald reported St George-Illawarra was preparing a contingency plan to snare Williams for the remainder of the 2020 season.

Using salary cap dispensation for Jack de Belin - who was stood down by the league in February 2019 after he was charged for sexual assault - St. George Illawarra is considering spending $250,000 to secure the former All Black.

Sonny Bill Williams played 73 matches for the Canterbury Bulldogs between 2004 and 2008.
Sonny Bill Williams played 73 matches for the Canterbury Bulldogs between 2004 and 2008.

Channel 9 reporter Danny Weidler revealed more than half a dozen clubs had expressed interest in signing Williams, including competition favourites the Sydney Roosters.

Speaking to NRL.com, Warriors chief executive Cameron George confirmed the club had considered approaching the superstar.

"We're in a position where obviously we're going to require players and if Sonny Bill Williams becomes available, of course, we're going to look at how it could happen," George said.

"We'll reach out for sure to try and understand the situation, we're already looking for loan players so imagine if it came off.

"The stars would have to be aligned, and I don't know if and when Sonny could even get to Australia. But we'd be mad not to ask the question."

 

Originally published as 'You're dreaming': NRL's grim SBW dilemma


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