'Rugby’s LeBron James': Toronto confirm Sonny Bill Williams signing

Ruben Hill
November 9, 2019

The terms of the deal for Williams, who is of Samoan descent, were not disclosed but media reports said he had accepted a two-year, $10 million offer, which would make it the largest contract in the league's history.

Williams will be expected to help the Wolfpack win trophies but he will also be counted on to bring in new fans and grow the sport not only in Toronto but across the county by turning the club into a Canadian brand in much the same way that the NBA's Toronto Raptors and MLB's Blue Jays have done.

Although the matches are yet to be confirmed, Meninga is supportive of growing the game on a global scale and has been in discussions with Wolfpack owner David Argyle to organise the stop over in Toronto in October next year. "We had 70,000 people trying to access it the minute it went live", he said.

The New Zealander will nearly certainly come under the "Marquee Player" rule, which states: 'Each Super League and Championship Club is permitted to have two Marquee Players whose Salary Cap Value is limited to £150,000 (or £75,000 if Club Trained)'.

His latest switch to rugby league comes just a week after featuring in his third rugby union World Cup, with the All Blacks finishing third.

The All Blacks star is reportedly close to signing for Canada's Toronto Wolfpack, and the Kiwis coach would consider him for the national team.

Speaking following Toronto's capture of cross-code icon Sonny Bill Williams, Meninga said the prospect of a match against the Wolfpack was one he looked forward to. "The club has big ambitions and big goals". Williams, who lifted NRL premierships with the Roosters in 2013 and the Bulldogs on 2004, will now look to add a Super League title to his glittering resume.

"Off the field I'd like to use my experience to mentor the young players and be helpful where I am needed".

"I have been privileged and blessed to have been given so many opportunities in New Zealand rugby", he said.

It's a sizeable paycheck for the former All Blacks midfielder, but one the Wolfpack's commercial vice president Jon Pallett said was worth writing.

"The excitement he will bring to the sport of rugby league in this country will be incredible", Hunter said.

His signing with the Wolfpack is certain to raise the club's worldwide profile greatly, and the prospective game against the Australian national side will significantly peak rugby league interest in North America.

"Sonny is a phenomenal athlete and we believe he is rugby's LeBron James and his addition to our league is comparable to when David Beckham joined LA Galaxy".

Williams is set to be officially unveiled and presented his jersey next week in London, with Argyle revealing football powerhouse Arsenal's home ground Emirates Stadium the confirmed venue for the ceremony.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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