How Sonny Bill Williams lives up to the hype

BRAD WALTER
Last updated 09:53 05/07/2013
Sonny Bill Williams
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BIG GAME EXPERIENCE: Sonny Bill Williams is one of two Roosters players to have won an NRL premiership.

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It is often said Sonny Bill Williams can do things other players aren't capable of doing.

Now comes the proof that he also does those things that win matches and makes fans marvel more than anyone else.

Statistics compiled by Sports Data reveal Williams is the most influential forward in the NRL and one of the game's leading players.

Put simply, the more the 27-year-old superstar touches the ball, the better the second-placed Sydney Roosters perform.

In his 15 matches since returning from a successful five-year stint in rugby, Williams leads the statistics for running forwards (not including hookers) in almost every main category except kicking and errors made.

Not only does he have a high workrate but his efforts with the ball are of a higher quality than any other forward averaging more than 15 touches a game.

Williams, who averages 15.7 touches a game, is the NRL's No.1 back-rower for:

❏ Tries - six (equal with Brisbane's Matt Gillett);

❏ Try assists - five (with the Warriors' Feleti Mateo);

❏ Line breaks - nine (with South Sydney's Sam Burgess); and,

❏ Line-break assists - nine (the next highest is five).

He is also fourth overall for offloads (33), behind Brisbane's Corey Parker (42) and Mateo (41) and Trent Merrin (34).

However, Williams offloads more regularly when he has the ball than any other leading forward (more than 15 a game) and he also scores tries, sets up tries, makes breaks and creates breaks for teammates with greater frequency.

Williams scores once every 39.2 touches, sets up a try every 47 touches, busts the defensive line every 26.1 touches, creates a break for a teammate every 26.1 touches and offloads every 7.1 touches.

hile the likes of Mateo, Burgess, Canterbury's Frank Pritchard and Canberra's Josh Papalii are close in some categories (see table), they fall away in others.

For example, Mateo makes a line break every 147.5 touches, Burgess hasn't produced a try assist this season, Pritchard offloads every 30.3 touches and Papalii scores once every 187 touches.

The statistics help highlight why Roosters coach Trent Robinson moved Williams to the halves in their past two wins over Canterbury and Manly after playing him as a right-side second-rower for most of the season.

With the dual international starring for the Roosters, attendances have skyrocketed from an average of 12,483 for home games at Allianz Stadium last year to 20,883 this season.

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The Roosters are keen to re-sign Williams but the Chiefs are also desperate for him to return and the Super Rugby champions are keeping a spot open in their next year's roster.

''We've got a very good relationship with Sonny and his manager and we will keep talking to them,'' Chiefs chief executive Gary Dawson told Radio Sport.

''We keep in touch with him and I think it is no secret that when we were over playing the Waratahs in Sydney we met with Sonny. If he doesn't come next year we can understand that, but we will certainly continue to work towards 2015 if he is not here next year. There are some major incentives for him to come back in 2015 with the Rugby World Cup and so on.

''Who knows how it will pan out in the next year or so but we are certainly confident that that is what happens.''

- Sydney Morning Herald

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