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Sonny Bill Williams (born 3 August 1985) is a New Zealandmarker rugby football player of Cook Islandsmarker, Samoan, Niueanmarker and European descent. He currently plays for Frenchmarker rugby union team Toulon in the Top 14. He started his career as a rugby league player with the Canterbury Bulldogs in the Australian NRL. He has represented New Zealand in rugby league.

Early life

Williams was born on 3 August 1985, in Auckland, New Zealandmarker, the son of John and Lee.

He grew up in the Auckland suburb of Mount Albert. He is of Samoan/Cookisland and European descent

Though his father was an accomplished rugby league player, Williams has stated that his mother introduced him to the game. He attended Owairaka Primary School and Wesley Intermediate, and his secondary schooling was at Mount Albert Grammar Schoolmarker.

Career

Rugby league

Early years

Williams was spotted playing in Auckland by Bulldogs talent scout John Ackland. In 2002 he was offered a contract and moved to Sydney to play in the Bulldogs junior grades.

NRL career

Williams was playing in the S.G. Ball Cup for Under-18 players where in 2001 he was named 'SG Ball Player-of-the-Year'. In 2002, he went up the ranks and quickly became a starting player in the forward pack for the Bulldogs Jersey Flegg Cup side. The following year in 2003 Williams worked his way up again into Premier League, again cementing a starting spot in the side. As each year progressed Williams moved through the Bulldogs ranks and in Round 1 of the 2004 season, at only 18 years old, he made his National Rugby League debut against the Parramatta Eels at Telstra Stadiummarker.

In 2004, he was selected to represent his country after only a handful of NRL matches and on 23 April made his debut for New Zealand in the 2004 ANZAC Test against Australia. He played 15 NRL premiership matches and firmly established himself in the Bulldogs squad. He experienced Premiership success in his rookie year, playing off the bench in the Bulldogs 16 - 13 victory over the Sydney Roosters in the 2004 Grand Final. Williams capped off a magnificent debut season by being presented with the International Newcomer of the Year Award and was named in the BBC's 2003 World XIII squad. He was also in close contention for the Dally M Rookie of the Year Award.As his contract was due to expire, Williams received several lucrative offers to attempt to lure him away from the Bulldogs, with the largest reported being from Super League club St Helens RLFC in the UK worth about $3 million. Despite this and many other offers, Williams decided to stay loyal to the club and signed on for a further two years with the Bulldogs. However, revelations later emerged about the veracity of this claim including St Helens RLFC chairman Eamonn McManus stating "No, we never made Sonny Bill Williams an offer in 2004,... I remember it well because Sonny was at the height of his powers that year... We had had some initial discussions (with Williams' management) but we certainly hadn't put an offer to him. And if we had, it would've been nowhere near the amounts now being bandied about."

After making a impact on the NRL in his debut year, Williams had a disappointingly short 2005 season. A severe knee injury plus several other minor injuries restricted Williams to only five games through the year and he subsequently missed several international fixtures for New Zealand. Williams had publicly expressed his frustration at his limited participation through the season stating "It seems like I've had injury after injury,". "More than anything, when you're not on the field a lot, it's tough mentally. You've got to be pretty strong mentally when you have injuries, and I've had a few." Williams would later dismiss claims he was injury prone as "bullshit".

Williams had a greatly improved 2006 season. He stayed relatively injury-free throughout the year playing in 21 matches, scoring 8 tries and just missing out on a Grand Final berth, losing to eventual Premiers the Brisbane Broncos at the last hurdle in the Preliminary Final. However, having been mostly injury free throughout the year, off-season surgery forced him to miss the Tri-Nations for the Kiwis for the second year running.

Just four minutes into his first match of the 2007 NRL season Williams was sent off for a reckless high tackle on Andrew Johns. At the start of the season, Williams' contract status was a frequent news item in the Australia print media. The speculation ended when Williams re-signed with the Bulldogs on the 9 March 2007, with a 5 year contract believed to be worth over $2.5 million that would have seen him stay with the club through to the 2012 season

Commenting on the re-signing, Williams said: "I'm happy to be staying here with the boys and I'm happy to be here with the Club. I want to be a Bulldog for life. The club is just as much apart of me a part of me as I am of the club. I love the Bulldogs." Coach Steve Folkes said: "Sonny is a great athlete, a great footballer and will only get better over the next few years." When it came to the football Williams again was strong playing in 21 matches and scoring 14 tries. Unfortunately the season didn't end well as Williams broke his forearm in a tackle on Nathan Hindmarsh during the Semi Final against the Parramatta Eels and went straight from the field. His team ultimately lost the match. In addition, Williams was again ruled out from representing his country in the post-season 2007 Great Britain Tour due to the broken arm. For the first time in his career Williams was nominated for 'Second-Rower of the Year' at the 2007 Dally M Awards but lost the award to Manly Warringah Sea Eagles second-rower Anthony Watmough.

Rugby union

As far back as 2005 it was recognised that the NRL's salary cap restrictions could prove problematic for trying to keep top-grade players in rugby league. In July 2008 Williams fled Australia to join French rugby union club Toulon. Canterbury Bulldogs club officials and players were not notified of his defection until after Williams had already departed for Europe. Williams was only 18 months of the way through a five year contract with the Canterbury Bulldogs. His breach of contract was resolved when Toulon paid a transfer fee of around £300,000 to the Bulldogs. After adjusting to the new game Williams proved to be a valuable asset playing at outside centre as Toulon recovered from a slow start to avoid relegation and finish mid-table in his first season. Williams' was selected for the Barbarians side that played Australia in Sydney on June 6, 2009. At Toulon he is playing alongside Jonny Wilkinson.

Boxing

On the 27th May 2009, Williams made his debut as a professional boxer and easily defeated Garry Gurr with a TKO in the second round in Sydney.

Controversies

Williams has been involved in a number of controversial off-field incidents. On 17 August 2005 it was reported he had been charged with drunk driving; the Bulldogs fined Williams $5,000 over the incident and he was forced to appear in Waverley Local Court on 7 September. He was convicted of drunk driving, with a blood alcohol level of .075.

In 2007, Williams was caught in a compromising position with Australian model/ironwoman Candice Falzon. Several witnesses saw Williams and Falzon enter a toilet cubicle together at the Clovellymarker Hotel in Sydney. A photo taken by a mobile phone of the incident was published on the Daily Telegraph website. Williams later apologised to his girlfriend over this incident. He said he was "ashamed and embarrassed" about his drunken encounter with Candice Falzon.

On 17 June 2007, Williams was caught by police urinating on a wall in a dark alleyway near a well known nightclub in Cronullamarker in Sydneymarker and was handed an infringement notice and fine worth $650. Williams subsequently admitted he had an alcohol problem and would seek professional help for his problem. He also said in an official statement that he would be "taking drastic measures to make sure this doesn’t happen again."

Statistics

Season Matches Tries Goals Points
2004 15 4 0 16
2005 5 1 0 4
2006 21 8 0 32
2007 21 14 0 56
2008 11 4 0 16


Honours

Individual

References

  1. http://www.ciherald.co.ck/articles/h432f.htm
  2. http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2004/09/26/1096137105585.html?from=moreStories
  3. Sonny Bill Williams upgrades to penthouse The Australian, July 31, 2008
  4. BBC SPORT | Rugby League | Williams has world at his feet
  5. http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2005/03/09/1110316096193.html
  6. http://www.smh.com.au/media/2005/03/09/1110316095529.html
  7. Sonny Bill slips back under the radar - League - Sport - smh.com.au
  8. Bill brushes off brittleness bunkum - leaguehq.com.au
  9. I want to be a Bulldog for life: Sonny Bill - League - Sport - smh.com.au
  10. Mitsubishi Electric Bulldogs - Official Website
  11. http://www.smh.com.au/news/League/Milliondollar-kid-could-expose-farce-corroding-game/2005/02/12/1108061925984.html
  12. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/rugbyunion/club/2580942/Sonny-Bill-Williams-set-to-make-Toulon-debut-against-Saracens---Rugby-Union.html
  13. http://www.scrum.com/scrum/rugby/story/101149.html
  14. Sonny Bill gets five-month driving ban - League - Sport - smh.com.au
  15. Sonny Bill forgiven by girlfriend after sex scandal - 15 Apr 2007 - League news - NZ Herald
  16. Sorry Bill Williams - leaguehq.com.au
  17. League: Sonny Bill caught with his pants down - 18 Jun 2007 - nzherald: Sports news - New Zealand and International Sport news and results
  18. I have a drinking problem: Sonny Bill - leaguehq.com.au
  19. League: Sonny Bill takes the pledge - 19 Jun 2007 - League news - NZ Herald
  20. Mitsubishi Electric Bulldogs - Official Website


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