SBW backed to be face of league

Last updated 09:26 05/03/2013
Sonny Bill Williams
Getty Images
FACE OF LEAGUE: Sonny Bill Williams would be an ideal candidate to become the "face of the game" if he decides to remain in rugby league, says the Roosters chairman.

Related Links

Souths ignore SBW hype ahead of NRL opener Gould: Why I'm welcoming SBW back to NRL Sell-out expected for SBW Roosters' debut Sky sticks with SBW but public not so sure Botha wants SBW loss wiped from books SBW's manager scoffs at bribe allegation

Relevant offers


Who has signed, who is staying put and who is still undecided among NRL top players? Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad poised for Warriors and NRL debut on wing against Roosters Jarryd Hayne's on-field disputes with teammates are OK, says coach Neil Henry Melbourne Storm's NZ star Nelson Asofa-Solomona raising eyebrows when it counts Brisbane Broncos coach Wayne Bennett defends NRL bunker from criticism Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga wary of Kiwis 'big four' spine for Anzac league test Josh Reynolds to replace Mitchell Moses at Wests Tigers Kangaroos name strong squad for Kiwis test New coach of Kiwi Ferns names six debutants for Anzac test against Australian Jillaroos Ben Matulino departure to Wests Tigers a 'deep cut' for the Warriors

Sydney Roosters chairman Nick Politis believes Sonny Bill Williams would be an ideal candidate to become the "face of the game" if he decides to remain in rugby league.

The hype surrounding Williams' return to the NRL is in overdrive, officials hopeful that Thursday night's opening game between the Roosters and arch rivals South Sydney will be a sell-out.

The dual international is the headline act and, particularly with Ben Barba sidelined indefinitely, will be one of the biggest drawcards for the entire season.

In a rare interview, Politis said that Williams' clean-living lifestyle would make him an ideal candidate the next time the honour is bestowed.

"He's the perfect example," Politis said."He's focused and a completely dedicated athlete. He's a superstar in the world of rugby, so you couldn't get a better person. That would be great. If he hangs around, why not? It would be an honour [for him]."

Barba is the latest superstar to succumb to the"curse" of being the NRL poster boy after he was given the privilege of officially opening the season.

Brett Stewart, of Manly, was suspended for bringing the game into disrepute only days after launching the 2009 season.

The NSW fullback was later acquitted of sexual assault. Wests Tigers captain Benji Marshall was charged with assault after cutting the ribbon for 2011, with all charges eventually dismissed. And now Barba has been stood down indefinitely to sort through his personal issues.

That Williams could be earmarked to replace Barba, given the circumstances surrounding his controversial exit from the NRL five years ago, shows how much his star has risen.

The 27-year-old has subsequently won a Rugby World Cup with the All Blacks and his defeat of Francois Botha earned him the World Boxing Association heavyweight title.

While all eyes will be on the return of the prodigal son, Politis predicted it would take time for him to readjust to the rigours of the 13-man code.

"It's very exciting," he said."There's been a lot written and said and we finally got there, so it's great … After five years out of the game, there's a lot of interest to see how he goes. I hope there isn't too much pressure on him. It has been five years, so it will probably take him five or six games to wind up."

Ad Feedback

Politis has watched plenty of football since becoming the sport's first sponsor in 1976. However, he admits there has been a unique build-up to this year's opener.

"It's always good against Souths," he said."Last year, the way the two games finished, it was pretty unique. It was one each and both games were won and lost in the last three minutes. You couldn't get more exciting games.

"I'm sure that everyone is going to have big interest in the opening game and with Sonny. Souths have got a fantastic team, too - they're tipping them to be the premiers."

Politis was hoping that the"full house" sign would go up at Allianz Stadium, although he was unsure how the punters would respond to a Thursday night kick-off.

"Being a Thursday night makes it a bit different - it's only the second year that this is how the season started," he said.

- Sydney Morning Herald

Special offers
Opinion poll

Who is your pick for international league player of the year?

Shaun Johnson

Jesse Bromwich

Sam Burgess

James Graham

Greg Inglis

Johnathan Thurston

Vote Result

Related story: (See story)

Featured Promotions

Sponsored Content