Sonny Bill Williams in His Own Words
‘If you don’t have massive dreams, you might as well stay in bed.’
These words from Toronto Wolfpack signing Sonny Bill Williams, spoken in 2013 on the eve of his return to Rugby League, sum up his career perfectly.
Williams has never been one to shy away from a challenge and is certainly not one to place a ceiling above his aspirations. Illustrating this is the fact that in the years following that statement, Williams has won an NRL Premiership, a Rugby League World Cup Challenge title, his second Rugby World Cup, a Rugby Sevens title and multiple heavyweight boxing titles.
Now the towering New Zealander is on his way back to the sport where it all started, signing with the Wolfpack ahead of their maiden Super League Season. One of the most highly anticipated decisions in world sport, Williams’ choice to join the transatlantic Toronto side has shined a spotlight on the expansion team and their quest to grow the game of Rugby League in North America and beyond.
Williams has earned praise and respect wherever he has travelled throughout his sporting journey as a result of not just his incredible talent but also the attitude he carries with him every day. When asked about his ability to perform on the biggest stages, Williams pointed to his worth ethic and commitment as the most important measure of personal success.
‘I feel that if I am busting my arse, if I am stretching at night, if I am working hard in the gym, if I am doing all of my extras out on the field, if I am the first one there and the last to leave and if I am giving my all every game, then I deserve to be the man I want to be rather than the man other people want me to be.’
What cannot be lost in the remarkable story of Williams is that no matter where he goes, the players and coaches surrounding him will always be the first to say how venerated and loved he is within the team. Ahead of the Rugby League World Cup Final between New Zealand and Australia, Williams was officially named the world’s best player and was overcome with emotion when his teammates performed an impromptu Haka as a sign of respect.
The Haka is ceremonial dance in Maori culture that issues a challenge to opponents, welcomes distinguished guests or acknowledges great achievements or occasions. For Williams to receive this great honor is something that has stuck with him in his travels throughout the sporting world.
‘The biggest thing for me is earning the respect of my fellow players and coaches. I think that is why I was a little bit emotional. You don’t get a Haka done to you from the brothers if they don’t respect you.’
Joining the Wolfpack’s journey is the next step in a career unlike any other to go before it and one that will undoubtably see Rugby League continue its rapid growth in North America. Williams is renowned for bringing just as much to a team off-field as his unparalleled talents being on-field and his acquisition has all those involved with the Wolfpack excited at the experience and desire he is sure to bring.
A proven performer at the elite level, a fan-favorite everywhere he plays and a supremely positive influence on his teammates, Williams is grounded in who he is a person. His outlook on life is something that is sure to strengthen a Wolfpack squad that has already tasted success as they embark on the biggest challenge in their fledgling history to date.
Even more so than other athletes, it is impossible to know where Williams’ career will take him, but for now it is certain that he will be pulling on a Wolfpack jersey in 2020 and the Club could not be more thrilled. As for the man himself, his unique experiences have cultivated a healthy sense of perspective and peace within that only add to the aura surrounding him.
‘When I finish my sporting career it’s not about what I’ve done, or being remembered; for me it’s just about being the best father, husband and man I can be.’