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Last Updated: Wednesday, 16 February, 2005, 14:06 GMT
Williams has world at his feet
By Phil Gordos

WILLIAMS FACTFILE
Sonny Bill Williams
Date of birth: 3 August 1985
Honours: Dally M Rookie of the Year, International Newcomer of the Year, Named in 2004 World XIII

Sonny Bill Williams had not played a first-grade game of rugby league this time last year.

Now the 19-year-old New Zealand international is being hailed as a future superstar, has already won a handful of top accolades, and has a clutch of clubs clamouring to sign him.

It's clear that Williams is hot property - and with just reason.

The 6ft 4in second rower is a game-breaker, a player who can shatter the toughest of defences with his power, pace, strength and amazing offloads.

He can also stop an opponent with brutal efficiency, as anyone who witnessed his shoulder charge on the not-so-slightly-built Marcus Bai in the World Club Challenge will testify.

But it is his ability to get the ball away under extreme pressure that marks Williams down as a talent to treasure.

Just when fans of the opposing team think he's been trussed up like a Christmas turkey, the ball pops out to a team-mate and the attack continues.

One of the best feelings in the world is making a big hit and getting praise from the boys on the field
Sonny Bill Williams

He's not unstoppable but, like Maradona or Michael Jordan, it's best to prepare for the unexpected when he is around.

The grandson of New Zealand international Bill Woolsey, Williams is contracted to Canterbury until the end of the 2005 season.

But his future is already under intense discussion.

His advisors have hinted he wants to stay with the Bulldogs but admit their heads have been turned by a megabucks deal from a Super League club in England.

Most people thought Wigan were responsible given that Andy Farrell looks to be on his way to union.

But Warriors chairman Maurice Lindsay insists his club have not yet made an approach for the International Newcomer of the Year.

He's a sensational player... we are interested in world-class players
Leeds chief Gary Hetherington

Whether that remains the case if Farrell does switch codes is doubtful.

Wigan will have the financial clout to offer Williams a salivating offer.

And they know that, at just 19, he is a player they could build a side around.

Other Super League clubs are likely to feel the same way.

But only Leeds, Hull and Bradford could possibly offer him both the status and the cash he is likely to demand.

International team-mate Robbie Paul would love him at Odsal.

He's an exceptional athlete... he can step brilliantly off either foot and he's lightning quick
Robbie Paul

"The guy is a freak of nature," the Bradford star told BBC Sport back in November.

"He's an exceptional athlete. He can step brilliantly off either foot and he's lightning quick.

"At 6ft 4in and 16st, his speed and agility are outstanding."

The beauty for English sides is that they can start negotiating with Williams and his advisors now.

NRL clubs must wait until the anti-tampering deadline of 30 June has passed before approaching him.

And what a coup it would be for the British game to see Williams over here.

Farrell may soon be gone, but another rugby league giant is ready to take his place.




SEE ALSO
Leeds admit interest in Williams
15 Feb 05 |  Super League
Williams ponders move to England
12 Feb 05 |  Rugby League
Farrell in talks over code switch
11 Feb 05 |  Rugby League


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