Rugby

Toronto Wolfpack reportedly sign New Zealand rugby star Sonny Bill Williams to multi-million-dollar deal

The BBC reported Tuesday that the All Blacks star Sonny Bill Williams is set to join the Toronto Wolfpack on a two-year, multi-million-dollar deal. The transatlantic rugby league team had little to say about the report, however.

Wolfpack mum on BBC report that All Black veteran will join club

New Zealand rugby star Sonny Bill Williams, right, shown in the All Blacks' victory over Wales in the bronze-medal match at the Rugby World Cup in Tokyo on Friday, has reportedly signed with the Toronto Wolfpack. (Getty Images)

The Sonny Bill Williams to Toronto move continues to pick up speed.

The BBC reported Tuesday that the All Blacks star is set to join the Toronto Wolfpack on a two-year, multi-million-dollar deal. The transatlantic rugby league team had little to say about the report, however.

"At this present time, we still have nothing to confirm," a Wolfpack spokesman said.

But the club's interest in the 34-year-old Williams, a star in both rugby codes — union and league — has been well-documented this year.

In February, Wolfpack majority owner David Argyle confirmed that his team had had "active negotiations" with Williams' agent. Wolfpack chairman and interim CEO Bob Hunter said last week that discussions were continuing.

Williams signs autographs after New Zealand's loss to England in the semifinals at last month's Rugby World Cup in Japan. (Getty Images)

"We'd obviously be extremely excited about landing a player of that calibre and that notoriety," Hunter said at the time. "It would make such a big difference."

The Wolfpack make their debut in the top-tier Super League in February after winning promotion in October in their third season. Signing a star like Williams would help them kick off life in the Northern Hemisphere's top rugby league circuit with a bang.

Williams is a rugby icon who has represented New Zealand internationally in both rugby union and rugby league. He was part of the New Zealand rugby sevens team at the 2016 Rio Olympics, partially rupturing an Achilles tendon in the All Blacks' first match.

Williams, whose resume also includes an unbeaten stint as a heavyweight pro boxer, is fresh off the All Blacks' third-place finish at the Rugby World Cup in Japan.

WATCH | Highlights of the Wolfpack's big win:

Toronto's 24-6 comeback win over Featherstone means a promotion to the Super League and a cool million pounds for the club. 1:53

The Wolfpack started life in the third tier of English rugby league in 2017, winning promotion to the second-tier Betfred Championship in its first season. It won promotion to the top-tier Super League in October with a 24-6 win over Featherstone Rovers in the Million Pound Game.

Like Major League Soccer, English rugby league has a salary cap with a partial exemption for marquee players. In rugby league, the salary cap was two million pounds (C$3.38 million) in 2019. Teams can have two marquee players with each of their salary cap hits restricted to 150,000 pounds (C$251,815).

Toronto's marquee players in 2019 were Australian forward Darcy Lussick and Samoan international back Ricky Leutele.

At six-foot-three and some 238 pounds, Williams is a powerful runner whose ability to offload the ball in a tackle extends attacks.

He has won two rugby league championships in Australia's NRL.

 

 

 

 

 

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