Sonny Bill Williams has revealed his move to Toronto was “an offer [he] couldn’t turn down” after initially suggesting a return to rugby league was looking highly unlikely.
Williams spoke for the first time since leaving the All Blacks – a move that saw him join the newly-promoted Super League outfit – during a media conference at the Emirates Stadium in London.
“This deal came to fruition in such a short space of time,” Williams said.
“This was an opportunity I couldn’t turn down.
“I’m grateful and blessed for this opportunity but understand what I’m coming into. It’s great what Toronto have done and what they’re trying to achieve. It all lined up and as a man of faith I thought it was just meant to be.
“I’m a sportsman but I need to have a purpose. I can be really suited to their style of game.
“Wherever I go I know there’s a lot of headline grabbing and attention. I want my teammates to know when I’m coming to work it means I’m coming to do the things people don’t see behind closed doors.”
When asked if there was still time to return to the NRL, Williams noted it was unlikely but failed to rule it out.
“I’ll be 36 by the time this contract finishes, I don’t think I’ll be going back to Australia anytime soon,” he said.
Williams said he was made aware of the Wolfpack’s interest during his time at the Rugby World Cup with New Zealand, who were eliminated in the semi-finals.
“During the World Cup once I found out they were interested I started watching a few of their games. Their style is different to other teams,” he said.
“When I made contact with a couple of Australian players by all accounts it’s different and there are other challenges but nothing I’m not used to.
“To be honest before the World Cup I was intending to stay in New Zealand for another year in union.
“I think from all accounts with what I’ve heard a lot of Canadians don’t understand the game but support it like Americans.”
Williams has not played league football since 2013-2014, where he won a grand final during his first season with the Sydney Roosters.
SBW collected his first NRL premiership with the Canterbury Bulldogs, who he played for between 2004 and 2008.
Wolfpack coach Brian McDermott revealed Williams has made an immediate impact since joining his new teammates.
“Sonny came into camp yesterday and met all the players and staff. We’ve signed a world-class international player. The guy is a brand and has been building the brand up for a number of years,” he said.
Local fans will have to wait some time to see Williams play, with Toronto’s inaugural home match in the Super League not until round 11 with the clubs first three home matches being played on the road due to the Canadian winter.
The Wolfpack’s highly-anticipated Super League debut comes on the 2nd of February when they face the Castleford Tigers.