Sonny Bill stars for Roosters against old team
The man they all came to see didn't disappoint as Sonny Bill Williams tormented his former NRL club with a starring role in the Sydney Roosters' 38-0 demolition of Canterbury at Allianz Stadium.
Playing against the Bulldogs for the first time since walking out on the club to pursue a rugby union career 1753 days ago, Williams scored two tries and set up another with his first touch of the ball.
It was the sort of performance which had two-time premiership-winning coach Phil Gould claiming the dual international could carry the Roosters to a premiership on his own back - and few of the 22,552 who were there to witness the performance would disagree.
The healthy Bulldogs contingent which turned up to give it to the man they hadn't forgiven for his clandestine departure in 2008 also made an early exit, Williams' second try 18 minutes from time too much to bear as they headed home.
By that stage, it was 26-0 but, in truth, the game was over far earlier with the Bulldogs a shadow of the side which stormed to last year's minor premiership - Canterbury now with just one win from their opening six games.
The Roosters are flying following their fourth victory of 2013, Williams wasting little time to silence the chanting Bulldogs fans with a brilliant cut-out pass for Roger Tuivasa-Sheck on nine minutes starting the rot.
Despite their dominance, the Roosters only added a James Maloney penalty before halftime but, from the restart, the floodgates opened, Williams sealing his first try with a high five for a lucky fan in the crowd.
The man the Bulldogs hoped would be the new SBW in the blue and white, namesake Tony Williams, continued his struggles when he dropped the ball millimetres from the tryline, the Roosters making them pay when Daniel Mortimer backed up a Maloney break to make it 20-0.
The tries continued to flow for the home side with Williams powering over Josh Morris for his second before fellow new signing Maloney and Michael Jennings crossed as the Roosters held their opponents scoreless for the third time this season.
"Emotionally I knew I could drown it out," Williams said of the hostile environment.
"I said during the week I understand some of the ill-feeling towards me from the fans but, for myself, it was never about the players that I played with or the fans. I always had a pretty good relationship with them."
Asked if the performance meant more given the opposition, Williams said: "To be honest, everyone around me was making more of a deal of it than I was.
"I've played on some pretty big occasions. For me, I knew the way to get the best out of myself was to be diligent in my preparation.
"It's pretty easy for myself to shut everything off and concentrate on what I need to do."
Told of Gould's comments, Williams brushed them off.
"I don't think of it like that at all, no disrespect to Gus.
"There's other players in the team and I wouldn't be able to do a couple of those things if it wasn't for the boys in the middle doing the hard yards.
"And I don't really like it when it's beat up like that: 'oh Sonny did this and that' - it's just about the team."
For Bulldogs coach Des Hasler, he had a simple answer to the crisis the club finds itself in.
"We have to fix it; we have to complete sets; we have to build some pressure," he said.
"We're a bit out of sorts. It's round six, but we've got some work to do and we'll do it and we'll bounce back from this."
Sydney Roosters 38 (S Williams 2 M Jennings J Maloney D Mortimer R Tuivasa-Sheck tries J Maloney 7 goals) Canterbury Bulldogs 0 at Allianz Stadium. Referee: Gavin Morris, Ben Cummins. Crowd: 22,552