SBW fights against the gods of celebrity

04:41, Feb 13 2012

Few people would seriously question Sonny Bill Williams' sporting ability.

To get to international level in two sports – league and rugby – is no mean feat.

That he hasn't managed to make the impact his abilities would suggest, probably has more to do with factors away from the footy field than on it.

I didn't pay to watch his fight against Clarence Tillman this week, and unless I thought he was being put up against a credible opponent I wouldn't pay to watch any of his fights.

There was a solid ring of truth to the interview I saw with an Auckland coach who said SBW would rank as a top corporate boxer, less so the interview with Lance Revill, who claimed the double international had "taken apart" top New Zealand amateur heavyweight Joseph Parker in sparring.

Fair play to his manage-ment for trying to leverage as much as they can out of their product, but the risk they run is that their product starts to look a bit generic.

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Is Sonny Bill destined to be good enough to do lots of things, but never great at anything?

I would have thought that if you wanted to create a global brand – and surely that's their aim – you would choose a path and then see how far you could take it.

Jonah Lomu became a sporting figure to rival the biggest names – Tiger Woods, David Beckham, Roger Federer – without ever having to add additional strings to the bow.

Maybe SBW's handlers are content with managing a big fish in a small bowl which encapsulates New Zealand and Sydney only. However, with the talent and image which SBW can portray surely that's barely shooting for the top of the trees.

Sonny Bill obviously enjoys boxing, and there's a case that the training involved could aid him in his footballing endeavours, particularly the fitness and footwork involved, but that doesn't mean he needs to make a show of it.

Jeff Wilson's first sporting love was basketball and he could well have one day played for the Tall Blacks, but he never would have been as good on the court as he was as an All Black.

The same applied to his cricketing ambitions. One day he had to choose. He chose rugby and became one of our greatest All Blacks.

SBW is big right now, but will his fame endure?

Or will his undisputed talent be sacrificed to the gods of celebrity?