Sonny Bill Williams left the NRL in 2008 as one of the most damaging ball-runners and feared defenders in the world.
He has returned as the complete package.
Williams' performance in his Sydney Roosters 8-0 win against Brisbane on Saturday night was arguably the best of his rugby league career and easily his most influential outing since returning to the code from rugby union.
The off-loads, footwork and monstering defence were still there but this trio of gifts which saw him surge on the rugby league world are now just minor aspects of his game.
He has a new sense of maturity, an ability to pick his moments while still being the most influential player on the field.
Williams' sheer athleticism and skill laid on the only try of the match, when he put five-eighth James Maloney through a gaping hole, from a pass any genuine playmaker would be proud of.
The backrower, who was denied his own try after dropping the ball over the line, terrorised Scott Prince on Brisbane's right hand defensive edge.
He played 80 minutes for a second consecutive week and finished with 15 hit-ups and 36 tackles in a performance the coach Trent Robinson described as tough.
"We saw some nice passes and a couple of good off-loads and all that," Robinson said.
"But he worked really hard on his D [defence]. He turned up and he also had a lot of pressure on Prince. He made good decisions on block plays, it was a really strong 80 minutes and really impressive to see the balance between some nice attacking play and he'll do anything to work hard for the bloke next to him.
"He doesn't want to let anyone down. He works hard on his individual game.
"He is really clear on his role within our team and it's easier defensively to know your role but harder to do it and he worked hard on that tonight."
Williams was not alone in helping the Roosters shut out Brisbane.
Props Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and Martin Kennedy were among the Roosters' best.
While Robinson was pleased with his teams' defensive resolve he was once again left unsatisfied with their discipline.
"It's frustrating," Robinson said of the seven penalties his team gifted Brisbane.
"They are frustrating because you don't know how your teams are going to defend them. I got some confidence as we went on about defending our error or a penalty but it's still not good enough from us.
"Good teams work hard on avoiding the obvious ones. We're still giving field position up pretty easily."
Meanwhile, Broncos coach Anthony Griffin said his team should have capitalised on their mountain of possession.
Brisbane finished with 55 per cent of time with the ball.
"It wasn't a step backwards in effort," Griffin said. "We had our chances.
"It was disappointing not to score a couple of tries."
Neither side suffered any injuries but Brisbane could be without back-rower Matt Gillett who is expected to come under the scrutiny of the match review committee for a high shot on Maloney in the first half despite not being placed on report.
- Sydney Morning Herald
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