Sonny Bill Williams injures shoulder, will box

BRAD WALTER
Last updated 00:08 28/10/2012
Sonny Bill Williams
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WILD KNIGHT: Sonny Bill Williams in action for his Japanese club side Panasonic.

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Sonny Bill Williams will arrive in Australia this week to prepare for his fight against South African heavyweight Francois Botha, despite suffering a shoulder injury playing rugby union in Japan.

Williams, who plays for Panasonic Wild Knights, was taken from the field during the first half of the match against Mitsubishi Dynaboars after being injured while making a tackle. He was in considerable pain and is awaiting the results of an MRI scan to learn the extent of the injury.

The New Zealand heavyweight boxer said on his Twitter page: ''Going in for an MRI hopefully just a small muscle tear'' after Panasonic's 23-20 win over Kintetsu Liners.

However, Williams rejected a report he would miss the rest of the Japanese rugby competition, putting an end to the November 24 fight in Brisbane and casting doubts about his return to the NRL with Sydney Roosters.

''I am just waiting for a full prognosis in the next 24 to 72 hours,'' Williams told The Sun-Herald last night.

Williams later tweeted: ''Results back, nothing serious, small tear, so hopefully still be able to [fight Botha].''

The 26-year-old dual international intends to proceed with plans to fly to Australia this week to step up his training for the bout with Botha, who has had 60 professional fights - including bouts against Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield and Lennox Lewis. The fight will be the sixth fight for Williams, who won the New Zealand heavyweight title earlier this year.

Williams is also expected to formalise a one-year deal with the Roosters before joining the club at the end of the Japanese Top Rugby season in February. He scored an early try in yesterday's match for Panasonic Wild Knights but was injured attempting a tackle on former Western Force centre Gene Fairbanks.

New Roosters coach Trent Robinson travelled to Japan during the week to meet Williams, who is earning $A1.2 million for his stint with the Wild Knights. Robinson said he had no problems with Williams arriving just before the Roosters kick off the 2013 NRL season with the opening match against Souths at Allianz Stadium as he was in peak physical condition.

Williams left the world champion All Blacks and Super Rugby champion Chiefs for a 12-match deal in Japan estimated to be worth over $100,000 a game.

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Panasonic have yet to see a bumper return on their investment, with the Wild Knights fifth in Japan's Top League standings, 14 points behind leaders Suntory Sungoliath.

Last year's runners-up Panasonic have yet to click and an injury would pile more pressure on Williams, who has already admitted to feeling the weight of his huge price tag.

Defending champions Suntory continue to make it look easy, however, thrashing Fukuoka Sanix Blues 42-19 to make it eight wins from eight.

Record holder Hirotoki Onozawa's 100th Top League try ensured that Suntory go into the month-long winter break four points clear at the top with 39 points from a possible 40.

- Sun-Herald, Reuters

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