Farewell, a season of media headlines, and welcome to another set.
According to an article in the Sydney Morning Herald:
Sonny Bill Williams has signed a two-year deal with the NZRU and the Chiefs and will return to rugby in 2015.
The 19-test All Blacks was widely rumoured to have been considering a switch back to rugby before a last-minute change of heart had him sign on for another year with NRL champions, the Sydney Roosters.
“Sonny showed in his two years with New Zealand rugby that he is an outstanding talent and was a real asset to our game,\” said New Zealand Rugby chief executive Steve Tew.
“We are delighted to have agreed terms, which will see him return to rugby in 2015.”
So we bid the “will he stay another year?” headlines adieu. It could have been another year of innuendo and unsubstantiated hearsay from everyone — even though he stated in signing with the Roosters for 2014 that the plan was to head back next year.
Now? We get a season of “last chance to see Sonny Bill in Rugby League” headlines and promotions. And that’s not a bad thing, for the NRL or for the Roosters.
It should ensure membership take-ups increase from last year’s nearly 14,000 Roosters memberships, while TV ratings for Roosters games should increase.
Do you doubt that Channel 9 will not milk this for all it is worth?
For Roosters fans, many expected this and few are shocked by the news. We were guaranteed one year; instead we get two, which is more than we ever dreamed of after he left league for the 15-man code.
Remember, he didn’t have to return to league. He’d won a premiership and those in Newscorp all but warned him to stay away because of his abandoning of the Bulldogs.
But he returned and helped us win a premiership. He could have left it there and chased RWC and Olympic glory by returning to the Chiefs early.
Instead, he could now leave on an even higher ntoe with the club after giving us another year and the best possible chance of any premiers in the 2000s to defend their title — and yes, that includes our team in ’03, and the Manly and Melbourne squads of recent times.
After all, we have lost just one player from the top squad, to retirement.
I really can’t wait for this year now. If Sonny Bill is driven by the legacy he hopes to leave, and by accomplishments, then leaving the NRL as a back-to-back premiership winner would rank among his greatest achievements and leave a lasting legacy among the Bondi faithful.
He’s going to rip in this year to make it happen. He’ll leave nothing to chance, and will want to leave with no regrets.