And so it begins.
The Sydney Roosters are already considering putting on extra security for what is expected to be a hostile environment when the Roosters face the Canterbury Bulldogs in Round 6.
Twitter aficionado Ryan Heighway (@Heighway_) is adamant the game will coincide with Sonny Bill Williams’ best game since returning to the code, which will only serve to rile Bulldogs fans further.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, the Roosters are expecting 35,000 fans to pack Allianz Stadium for the clash, and extra security is being considered.
Of interest in the article is a quote from the leader of the group who paid to attend the Roosters-Rabbitohs match in a well-publicised move to heckle the return of SBW. The leader, known as Ali, said:
”How he left us… We haven’t forgotten how we made such a big deal of him, paid him a fortune, but he left us. It’s bad. Especially how he joined our worst rivals. He disappointed us.”
For one, SBW actually paid THE CLUB a fortune to leave — something in the range of $750,000 which he reportedly borrowed from Anthony Mundine. So the assertion that SBW took the money and ran is just wrong.
But it’s hard to dispute that the way he left the club was dishonorable — he left just after the season started and left a gaping superstar-sized hole in a club that was expected to contend in 2008.
And to be honest, I completely get why they are angry.
But they must also understand that I will wear a helmet to this game for a reason.
And they must understand that the club made $750,000 from his defection plus freed up significant room under the cap when he left.
And questions have never really been answered about why he left — although his agent Khoder Nasser more than alluded to it in this article in the Daily Telegraph, which stated:
“The whole culture of the club was appalling,” he said. “The ethos was: you get picked in first grade, you go out and get pissed, you win you get pissed, you lose you get pissed, you get injured you get pissed.
“This was the culture he found himself in as a 16-year-old kid.”
And he also says Sonny Bill was being “misused and abused” by the Bulldogs.
“They would send him out as a battering ram,” he said. “They had a Ferrari in the garage and they drove him like a Mack truck.”
At any rate, I’d wear some Kevlar to this one if I were you.
From the Herald:
Sydney Roosters boss Brian Canavan says there will be serious consideration about the security needed in two weeks’ time for Sonny Bill Williams’ long-awaited showdown with Canterbury.
He also revealed the club hadn’t ruled out using Williams in the pre-match promotion, despite the Kiwi superstar being branded an outcast by the Bulldogs’ army when he left Canterbury for French rugby in 2008.
”We haven’t really discussed it in detail, yet,” said Canavan. ”We’ll be mindful there’ll be a big crowd, we’ll be mindful there’ll be a lot of passion in there because both supporter groups are very passionate – and there’s a great rivalry between the two clubs from a spectator point of view.
”We’re predicting a big crowd so there’ll be the appropriate number of security people on call. We’re hopeful to get in excess of 35,000 supporters.
”The weather is still warm, it’s a Friday night.”
Canterbury fans vowed never to forgive the one-time favourite son who became an All Black and held a version of the New Zealand heavyweight boxing title. Indeed, Canavan was made aware that the wounds from Williams’ walk out hadn’t healed during the opening round of the NRL season.
A group of Canterbury supporters went to the Roosters-South Sydney match dressed in their battle colours and a sign that declared, ”We haven’t forgotten”.
The group of supporters sat behind the goal posts to jeer Williams when he made his debut in the red, white and blue before police made them take down their banner.
”How he left us,” said Ali, the group’s leader when asked to explain his sign. ”We haven’t forgotten how we made such a big deal of him, paid him a fortune, but he left us. It’s bad. Especially how he joined our worst rivals. He disappointed us.”