SBW may return to NRL again
Roosters superstar Sonny Bill Williams says there's a chance he will return to the NRL once his latest two year stint in rugby union wraps up in 2017.
Having joined the Tricolours last season, initially on a one-year contract to honour a handshake deal with Roosters supremo Nick Politis after four years with the rah rahs, Williams has since won a premiership with the club and postponed his return to the 15-man game to play on with the Roosters in 2014.
One of the most marketable faces in either code, Williams will take up a two-year contract with Super Rugby franchise Waikato Chiefs next season, and hopes to be a part of the All Blacks' World Cup defence in England just over a year from now.
Williams will be 31 when he next comes off contract in 2017 and refused to rule out a return to rugby league, though admitted he was unsure of how long he intends to play for.
"Last year when I came back to the game I didn't think I'd be staying for two years or winning the competition, so anything's possible," Williams said at the launch of the NRL's Pacific Strategy.
"Of course there's always a chance, but I'm 29 now. The missus says I'm getting older and older. I'm not too sure how long I'll be running around for.
"But I can assure you that no matter how long I'm running around I'll be giving 120 per cent... anything's possible and it just comes down to hard work and that self belief."
If Williams does return to the game it will be because of the respect he feels he has now "earnt" back from the rugby league community – a far cry from the public enemy number one status he carried after walking out on the Bulldogs in 2008 – and the tight bond he has formed with his Roosters teammates.
"It took me a few months to get back into the groove of things last year but I've really enjoyed my time here," Williams said.
"Not just on the field but off it. I feel like I've earnt a lot of respect back and that was probably one of the main things I wanted to do. Not just play good consistent footy, but earn a bit of respect back from the footy community and I feel like I've done that.
"Coming back, I obviously want to have a big year, not just for me and my family but for the boys, because I love it here, the boys are pretty much like brothers now."
The Roosters back-rower has spent the last three weeks out with a broken thumb, and is on schedule to return in the club's Round 25 clash with the Storm.
This weekend Williams will travel to Samoa alongside NRL CEO Dave Smith and Kangaroos coach Tim Sheens as part of the game's Pacific Strategy launch, meeting with government officials and running football clinics and education programs, which aims at strengthening rugby league through Samoa, Tonga, Fiji and Papua New Guinea.
Smith said Williams' enthusiasm for the trip and the initiative was to be commended, and that he hoped opportunities to take on such ambassadorial roles could lure him back to the game in 2017.
"Sonny's an absolute superstar in terms of his profile," Smith said. "I hope things like this really are attractive to someone like Sonny so that when he's finished the next phase of his journey he recognises that this is wonderful game to play and that equally we're trying to do things more broadly as well
"For someone like Sonny, who is a pretty wonderful guy, I reckon this will be quite attractive to him."
Smith refused to be drawn on whether the new discretionary salary cap powers he now wields – which have been touted as a potential to recruit and lure players from competing codes – would be used to entice Williams back to rugby league.
"Hopefully he'll come back on his own.
"It's a once in a 10- or 20-year thing. It's a discretionary power that's there in the event that you need it. I'm not going to go headhunting around the world."