Canterbury great Hazem El Masri insists he bears no ill will towards Sydney Roosters backrower Sonny Bill Williams but he doesn't expect Bulldogs fans to share that sentiment when the two NRL sides clash in two weeks' time.
Prior to Williams' return to rugby league this season El Masri famously said the dual international should not be allowed back in the game he walked away from mid-season in acrimonious circumstances in 2008.
Three games in and El Masri said Williams was again on his way to becoming one of the game's best players but he had no doubt Bulldogs fans would show him they hadn't forgotten when he plays in front of them at Allianz Stadium.
''I hold no grudges. I have no animosity against anyone but it is about what happened and that has been well documented,'' El Masri said.
''It's not just me (who thought he shouldn't be allowed back) but a lot of senior guys who were there at Canterbury, especially the way he went about it, especially when you really need someone at that time.
''I'm not backtracking from those comments. I got asked that question and I was honest when I answered it but I never questioned his ability and some people have mistaken that.
''I have always thought he was one of the game's top players and I have no doubt he will come back and cruise through this... it was never about his ability.
''Everyone is responsible for their own decisions so good luck to him. I just hope no one goes about it (leaving a club) the same way he has.''
The round-six match between the Roosters and the Bulldogs on April 12 shapes as one of the defining matches of the NRL season and El Masri said Williams' move to the Roosters would only add to the intense rivalry between the two clubs.
''Games like the Bulldogs and St George and us and Parramatta, local derbies, have got that sort of rivalry and games between us and the Roosters have got that recently as well,'' the former NSW and Australian representative said.
''There's no doubt that game will and the fact that it has got Sonny in there will add to it as well and I'm sure you blokes in the media are not going to let it go.
''You are going to pump it up as much as you can, it would be dumb not to.
''It's such an important game him coming back and I'm sure the fans are going to let him know how they feel.''
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