Samoa lay cards on table over SBW league switch
Samoa coach Matt Parish will approach Sonny Bill Williams once his deal to return to rugby league with Toronto is complete to talk to him about representing the Pacific nation.
Williams is expected to confirm within the next week he is making a comeback to the 13-man game, via the Wolfpack in the English Super League.
The former Canterbury and Sydney Roosters premiership winner has represented New Zealand in both league and union but is eligible to play for Samoa through his father’s heritage.
The 34-year-old superstar also holds a Samoan passport and has been passionate about both codes in the Pacific islands throughout his career.
“We would certainly wait for the ink to dry on his contract but we will be definitely be making contact with him to gauge his interest,” Parish told AAP.
“I know he is very proud of his Samoan heritage.
“We’d definitely welcome the opportunity to have him in the team. His influence on and off the field wou ld be immense for a nation like Samoa.”
Williams is expected to sign a two-year deal worth around $10 million with Toronto, that would also see him stay in the game until the 2021 World Cup.
Samoa insist their rugby league team is well placed, despite Saturday night’s flogging at the hands of Fiji.
But there’s little doubt a decision by Williams to represent the country would be their Jason Taumalolo moment.
Just as Taumalolo reinvigorated the international game and kickstarted the Tongan revolution when he opted to play for them at the 2017 World Cup, other players would likely follow Williams to Samoa.
The nation already have Martin Taupau and Anthony Milford pledging their allegiances, while stars Issac Liu, Jamayne Isaako, Josh McGuire and Josh Papalii are among others who are eligible.
“Having someone like Sonny, his presence around the group would be enormous,” Parish said.
“You only have to look at what he’s done for the Roosters in 2013 when they won the comp.
“He’s been in the All Blacks system the past couple of years. He’s certainly been in some great systems.
“There’s not too many players that are going to get the opportunity to play with Sonny Bill Williams because he’s only got about two or three years left.”
New Zealand Rugby League also confirmed this week they would welcome Williams back with open arms but said his form must be strong enough to force his way back into the team.
Meanwhile Parish is also keeping a close eye on whether Toronto sign England rugby union centre Manu Tuilagu, who is also of Samoan heritage.
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