Sonny Bill Williams is the biggest signing in Super League history – according to the man that has worked with and against him at the very highest level.
Steve McNamara was assistant at Sydney Roosters with Williams in 2014 and also saw his England side beaten by a New Zealand team including the back row superstar in the World Cup semi-final the previous year.
Now at Catalans, McNamara says Sonny Bill will light up the whole competition with Toronto Wolfpack, after his £5million deal was confirmed by the Canadian club last night.
McNamara said: “He’s the biggest name Super League has ever had – he’s not just a top player but a brand as well.
“It’s a brilliant signing for the competition – he’s known not just in rugby league and rugby union but as a sportsman across the world.
“Toronto have already created waves around the world with this deal and it’s making people sit up and take notice.
“I’ve not been across there yet but everything I’ve heard about the way they set up their game days and promote the sport has been good – and this will only enhance and accelerate their development.
“I think we’ll see a few full houses in Canada and at other grounds now, and signing Sonny Bill will have a huge commercial impact for them as well.
“The first thing that was mentioned at our club was that he could be coming to our home ground twice next season and it’s certainly got people interested.”
Having worked closely with the dual-code international at the Roosters, McNamara is also confident that Williams’ contribution on the field will be just as significant despite now being 34.
McNamara added: “There’s no doubt whatsoever about that, it’s not even in question.
“He’ll fall back into the speed of the game quickly and do whatever is needed to make sure he has the same impact he’s had at every club he’s been at. He’s the ultimate professional – he does everything right.
“He has high standards that drive other players – he takes guys who might be 7/10 and makes them 8/10 or 9/10 because they want to follow him.
“At the Roosters he didn’t even have a proper pre-season but he came straight into a team that went on to win the Grand Final and was hugely influential.
“He’s a massive signing for the sport.”
Toronto are hoping Williams’ capture helps them secure a Kangaroos tour match in Canada next year and the second row added: “The club has big ambitions and big goals.
“On the field, I’d like to bring high-quality play and do all I can for the betterment of the team. Off the field, I’d like to use my experience to mentor the young players and be helpful where I am needed.
“It will be a new experience and one I’m ready to embrace.”
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