As former NRL and Bulldogs star Sonny Bill Williams broke his silence on the Channel 9 Footy Show tonight; it was a very different man that everyone saw and heard on the broadcast.
Only 6 short months ago, Sonny Bill Williams was a humble, polite and happy sportsman. His natural boy next door personality won him fans not only from his own club, but throughout the Rugby League world. He was also an icon for the Polynesian community, a culture that is growing quickly in Rugby League – the Polynesian people are both talented, skillful and of a good nature and surely must feel disappointment and loss in what they are seeing from Sonny Bill Williams formerly a prominent icon of theirs.
If you actually closed your eyes and just listened to the audio from the Sonny Bill Williams interview tonight, you could be forgiven for mistaking him for Anthony Mundine. Gone was the humble nature and quietly spoken boy next door, what we heard was an angry young man who seems heavily influenced by his inner circle.
Sonny Bill made a point of trying to convince everyone that he is ‘his own person’ and is not ‘brainwashed’ by the likes of Anthony Mundine or Khoder Nasser. SBW claims he approached Khoder about becoming his manager and considers Anthony Mundine one of his closest personal friends.
It sounds like Sonny Bill Williams was ripe for the picking by Nasser and Mundine; it came to light during the Channel 9 interview that even after 5 years at the Bulldogs club – Sonny said he had ‘few’ if any close friends or mates at the club. When pressed about statements made by Bulldogs captain Andrew Ryan saying ‘SBW was not a mate’ and ‘not welcome back at the club’ – Sonny tried to avoid the question and hinted he trusted few if any personalities among team mates and officials at the club.
As Sonny Bill turned some of the blame on Bulldogs coach Steve Folkes, his frustration and aggressive tone continued. SBW said that Steve Folkes ‘Never took an interest in his personal life’ before Anthony Mundine came on to the scene. SBW also said he was angered after Steve Folkes allegedly mocked the muslim religion; a surprising statement considering that Steve Folkes and Bulldogs winger Hazem El Masri have been working together for years.
Sonny Bill Williams also went so far to say that the Steve Folkes incident was the straw that broke the camels back; and forced him to walk away from the Bulldogs club. This was probably the most laughable statement to come out of the interview; if Steve Folkes was such a problem for Sonny Bill Williams – he only had to wait around 6 more weeks until the season finished and he was set to be under the instruction of incoming Bulldogs coach for 2009 Kevin Moore.
So there is no doubting, that Sonny Bill has wrongly pointed the finger at Steve Folkes. It simply doesn’t add up.
Sonny also said that money wasn’t the big motivating factor in his move to French Rugby Union.
Now this is another interesting one from SBW; if money wasn’t the issue – why then does Sonny keeping reflecting on the fact he missed out on millions by turning down offers to join the Super League 12 months ago and still harbors frustration that the Bulldogs wouldn’t top up his contract after other stars walked away recently such as Willie Mason and Mark O’Meley.
Williams also put his foot in it again; expressing his anger that Rugby League players are hard done by in terms of earnings and compared Anthony Mundines $600,000 in 1997 to reduced wages of today amounting to around $400,000 for leading players.
So Sonny, for a man not motivated by money – why are you so concerned with the salary cap and hell bent on having your contract topped up by the Bulldogs less than 1 year into your massive 5 year deal?
You see the thing is; there was probably a good majority of people actually feeling sorry for Sonny Bill Williams. The previously shy and humble boy, was now talking tough and telling the world how he was the marquee player for the Bulldogs and the reason kids wanted autographs, posters on their walls and Bulldogs jerseys.
Yes Sonny, you’re probably right. You were big time and kids really looked up to you; you were an icon for the Bulldogs and the NRL. Your previous humble natured added to the respect you used to have; but now you only seem interested in telling everyone how good you are and how tough things were for you; because you could only earn $400,000 a year.
SBW also made comparisons to ‘bus drivers’ saying a driver offered more money by a rival company would surely take up the opportunity. And yes, Sonny you’re probably right – the driver might choose to take the promotion. But, I bet the driver would turn up to the depot – tell his mates the full story and shake hands with the boss. I doubt very much whether he would cut-off contact with his mates and never show his face again. I highly doubt it.
Sonny ended the interview with a message to his young fans; as SBW tried to justify what he had done – he said “He hoped that young fans would eventually over the years understand why he did it.”
Well Sonny, I highly doubt that will ever happen. Forget the excuses, the reasons or the finger pointing. You went about it the wrong way. Had you brought your intentions to the attention of the Bulldogs and the NRL, you could have walked away with your head up high. Yes, some people would have been disappointed – but you could have legally sought a solution and exited with some respect still in-tact;
Instead you’ve exited in the dark of night, now facing lengthy legal battles. Losing all your respect and what little friends you seemingly had in your so-called close knit group.
You seem sure that Anthony Mundine and Khoder Nasser are your closest friends; but ask yourself this question Sonny – how friendly would they be if you got a career ending injury next week and were unable to secure a contract ever again?
Good Luck SBW; by the looks of it – you’re going to need a lot of it.