Sonny Bill Williams is determined to "turn some heads" with Toronto Wolfpack after revealing he took "stick" from team-mates over another cross-code switch.

Fresh from representing New Zealand at the Rugby World Cup, Williams has given up the 15-a-side game for another dabble in the 13-player code.

It will be a third stint in rugby league for the 34-year-old, who has also competed in professional boxing, and he has vowed to make an impact with the Super League newcomers.

He comes in on a salary worth a reported £2.6million per year, unprecedented money for a single player in the sport, with his signing a statement of intent by his new employers.

"As Toronto players, I think we're going out there to turn some heads," Williams said on Thursday. "But then also the amount of support the lads have back in Toronto, it sounds crazy.

"It's a journey, there's a bit of pressure there but it's so exciting."

He was speaking in London at a news conference to announce his arrival in the UK-centred league, with Toronto the ambitious Canadian outfit who played their first match less than three years ago.

Next term will be their first in the top tier, and Williams said he felt "really grateful and blessed for this opportunity but I understand what I'm coming into".

He is confident the level of pressure that will be on him and Toronto is something he can thrive on, explaining he was offered the chance to join coach Brian McDermott's team "around the World Cup time".

Speculation linking him to Toronto had been bubbling along for months, and Williams decided the time was right to leave Auckland-based Super Rugby side the Blues when a deal was tabled.

"Obviously the lads in the teams I've been playing for were giving me stick but I hadn't heard anything from the club. Once it all came about it came to fruition really quickly," Williams said.

"But I just go back to the conversations that I had with Brian. Yes, I'm a sportsman, but I need to have that purpose, something I really believe in, and just his philosophy, how he wants to play the game, I feel like the way I strive to play the game, I could be really suited to their style of play."

McDermott knows the new acquisition will raise the profile of Toronto's team, and Super League as a whole, after pointing to the huge numbers of television viewers that saw Williams in World Cup action.

"They're going to follow where he's gone to and take interest," McDermott said. "Now they may have no interest whatsoever to start with in Super League or the Wolfpack, but they are now going to do that."

Paul Gallen has indicated he is set to fight former NRL rival Sonny Bill Williams in 2020, provided the prize money is evenly split.

After featuring for New Zealand at the Rugby World Cup in Japan, Williams has made headlines this week, switching back to rugby league to sign a two-year contract with newly promoted Super League club Toronto Wolfpack.

The 34-year-old's deal will reportedly make him the highest-paid rugby league player in the world, though it has now been reported a clause in his Toronto contract will allow Williams to fight Gallen in a heavyweight bout next year.

Sydney's Daily Telegraph newspaper report the fight will take place next October, with the two-time Rugby World Cup winner having initially agreed to face Gallen, who retired from the NRL at the end of last season, in 2017, only for the fight to be cancelled.

Gallen, 38, is taking on former AFL player Barry Hall in a heavyweight bout on Friday.

"I've got to deal with Barry Hall first and get him out of the way... we'll worry about Sonny later," Gallen told the Daily Telegraph.

"It will be a 50-50 split or it won't be happening. Everything was lopsided his way last time. Not anymore. I bring as much to the fight as he does.

"He'll make his couple of million so there will be no excuses for him to back away again."

Williams' agent, Khoder Nasser, shot down Gallen's claims.

"If Gal honestly thinks he's entitled to a 50-50 cut, the poor bugger has had too many head knocks," Nasser told the Telegraph.

Williams holds a 7-0 record as a professional boxer and beat veteran South African Frans Botha - who had previously fought the likes of Lennox Lewis and Wladimir Klitschko - by unanimous decision in 2013 to take the WBA International Heavyweight belt.

Toronto Wolfpack have billed Sonny Bill Williams as "rugby's LeBron James" after he joined the Super League newcomers in a move likened to David Beckham's switch to LA Galaxy.

Williams swapped codes again to sign a lucrative two-year deal with ambitious Toronto after the New Zealand centre added two Rugby World Cup titles to his union CV.

The Wolfpack have pulled off a major coup to land the 34-year-old following their promotion to the top flight in only their third season.

Toronto chairman and chief executive Bob Hunter said the acquisition of Williams can raise the profile of rugby league across the globe.

"The excitement he will bring to the sport of rugby league in this country will be incredible," said Hunter. "Having someone of his talent join the Wolfpack will greatly raise the profile of the club, and also help move the game forward globally.

"Sonny is a phenomenal athlete and we believe he is rugby's LeBron James and his addition to our league is comparable to when David Beckham joined LA Galaxy."

Wolfpack head coach Brian McDermott expects Williams to make a big impact in his first stint in Super League.

"We have signed one of the highest profile rugby players, if not sports stars in the world and he will enhance the world of rugby in Toronto and certainly push the brand of the Wolfpack onto another level," said the former Leeds Rhinos boss.

"The main point of excitement for our club is that we are signing a great rugby league player who has the hunger to be successful in Super League much as he was in the NRL and rugby union."

Leicester Tigers issued a hands-off warning after Toronto were linked with Manu Tuilagi, while fellow England centre Ben Te'o is also reportedly on their radar.

He may be heading over 15,000 kilometres from home, but Sonny Bill Williams is back where it all began.

The 34-year-old has returned to rugby league after signing a lucrative two-year deal with Super League newcomers Toronto Wolfpack.

It is another fascinating move for the New Zealander, who has represented his country in both codes, holds a 7-0 record in professional boxing and was Googled more often than Kim Kardashian by Kiwis in 2010.

Here, we take a look at Williams' career so far.

BULLDOGS BEGINNINGS

Fifteen years ago Williams, then 18, burst onto the scene with a brilliant display in his NRL debut as Canterbury Bulldogs thrashed Parramatta Eels 48-14.

The teenager scored a try and made 184 metres that night and, one month later, he became New Zealand's youngest ever Test player.

Canterbury went on to win the 2004 NRL Grand Final, with Williams coming off the bench in the victory. A star was born.

TO TOULON

After four seasons with the Bulldogs, Williams controversially switched codes, and countries, joining Top 14 side Toulon, despite having five years left to run on his deal with Canterbury.

A bitter court case followed, and Williams only spent two years in France before turning down an extension that would have reportedly made him the highest-paid player in union.

Williams had other ideas. He wanted to become an All Black.

WORLD CUP WINNER

Williams signed a contract with the New Zealand Rugby Union in 2010 and returned to Canterbury, this time with the region's union team, while representing the Crusaders in Super Rugby.

He made his much-anticipated All Blacks debut in November 2010, starting at outside centre against England, becoming the first man in almost a century to represent the country in both league and union.

New Zealand would end their long wait for a second World Cup title in 2011, with Williams scoring a World Cup record three tries as a substitute.

A HIT AT HEAVYWEIGHT

In 2009, Williams traded passes for punches when he made his debut as a professional boxer, stopping Gary Gurr in the second round.

That was thought to be a one-off but Williams clearly had a taste for the sweet science and he fought four more fights - winning them all - before taking on a title shot against Francois Botha in 2013.

Williams would walk away with the WBA International Heavyweight belt with a points win over a man who had fought Mike Tyson and Lennox Lewis previously.

However, there was an element of farce to the bout as it was cut short by two rounds, with the Kiwi clearly struggling by the end of the 10th.

RULING THE ROOST

Five years after his last NRL appearance - and after a stint in Japan - Williams returned to league with the Sydney Roosters, scoring a try on his debut in front of a record crowd.

He would be named the Roosters' player of the year that season and won a second NRL title.

Already a World Cup winner in union, he came close to claiming league's most coveted international prize too but was part of the New Zealand side beaten by Australia in the 2013 final.

Another return to union followed, though, and Williams added another World Cup winners' medal to his collection with the All Blacks in 2015.

Sonny Bill Williams has returned to rugby league by signing a two-year deal with Super League newcomers Toronto Wolfpack.

The 34-year-old, a two-time Rugby World Cup winner with New Zealand, has switched codes again having signed a contract reportedly worth 9million Canadian dollars that will make him the highest-paid rugby league player in the world.

Williams, who featured for the All Blacks in their run to the World Cup semi-finals last month, began his professional career in the NRL with Canterbury Bulldogs.

After winning a Premiership with the Bulldogs, he switched to union to play for Top 14 club Toulon but returned to the NRL in 2013, winning a second title with Sydney Roosters.

It has been five years since Williams played league and his signing is a coup for a Toronto side that will spend next season in Super League having won promotion in just their third campaign.

Centre Williams, a two-time World Cup-winner with the All Blacks with 58 caps to his name, is ready to play a big role for ambitious Toronto on and off the field.

"Toronto Wolfpack is a club that represents Toronto which is a very multicultural city," he said.

"The club has big ambitions and big goals. I want to be part of all this and do all I can to help reach those lofty goals.

"On the field I'd like to bring high quality play and do all I can for the betterment of the team. Off the field I'd like to use my experience to mentor the young players and be helpful where I am needed.

"Super league will be a new challenge and one I'm looking forward to. It will be a new experience and one I'm ready to embrace."

Super League should seek to make drastic changes to salary-cap rules to facilitate the arrival of high-profile stars such as Sonny Bill Williams.

That is the view of Toronto Wolfpack director of rugby Brian Noble, whose side are set to bring in Williams in a move they hope will raise the profile of the club and the sport, similar to the way David Beckham's switch to LA Galaxy shone a light on Major League Soccer. 

Toronto will embark on their maiden top-flight campaign in 2020, when clubs will be allowed to spend £2.1million on player salaries, although All Black Williams' impending arrival will fall under the marquee player rule.

"[Lifting the cap] would help for everybody's shopping lists," Noble told BBC Sport amid reports Williams will earn around £5m a year.

"It's not carefree abandoning of all the principles we've put in place in Super League, but if we're genuine in our aspirations to bring stars and have events, to make the game as vibrant as it was [when Super League started] in 1996 – or 1895 when northern union first broke away – then we are at the moment in the game where we need to make the pivotal decisions.

"There are some really intelligent people in and around Super League that agree with what Toronto are doing and the city is doing, while some are more head-scratching and wondering what it's about.

"It's time to have the debate and be positive and proactive about expansion, with all the right regulatory rules that should be in there.

"Sonny Bill Williams, if his name is on that piece of paper, is part and parcel and forefront of our view of making decisions that are good for the game and not just Toronto."

The Wolfpack have also been linked with Leicester Tigers and England centre Manu Tuilagi.

Sonny Bill Williams has been named to start for New Zealand in the Rugby World Cup third-place play-off against Wales in what is expected to be his All Blacks farewell.

Two-time world champion Williams has been linked with a return to rugby league via ambitious Super League newcomers Toronto Wolfpack once his contract expires at the end of the World Cup.

With Toronto confirming talks, Friday's match against Wales is tipped to be the 34-year-old's last in a New Zealand jersey after he came off the bench in the All Blacks' shock semi-final defeat to England.

The bronze medal match at Tokyo Stadium in Chofu will be the scene of an emotional night for the dethroned All Blacks.

All Blacks captain Kieran Read will lead New Zealand for the last time before international retirement as head coach Steve Hansen prepares to depart.

Outgoing boss Hansen has made seven changes to the starting XV, with Ben Smith and Ryan Crotty coming in for their international farewells.

"This was a tough team to select because, as always, everyone wanted to play," Hansen said. "But with a short turnaround and the nature of the Tournament, we feel that this is the right team for this occasion.

"There's been a lot of external talk around this being the game that no one wants to play. However, from our point of view, we can't wait to play it. Everyone in the squad − players and management − are motivated by the opportunity to show that our last performance wasn't at the high standard that we know we can play at.

"This is a Test match against an opposition that will also be keen to make a statement. Therefore, we will need to turn up with real attitude, intent and work ethic, and then execute our skillsets to the highest level possible. The game will be physical and fast as both teams will look to play to their strengths. We are looking forward to it and can't wait."

 

New Zealand: Beauden Barrett, Ben Smith, Ryan Crotty, Sonny Bill Williams, Rieko Ioane, Richie Mo'unga, Aaron Smith; Joe Moody, Dane Coles, Nepo Laulala, Brodie Retallick, Scott Barrett, Shannon Frizell, Sam Cane, Kieran Read.

Replacements: Liam Coltman, Atu Moli, Angus Ta'avao, Patrick Tuipulotu, Matt Todd, Brad Weber, Anton Lienert-Brown, Jordie Barrett.

Sonny Bill Williams could become the 'David Beckham of Super League' if Toronto Wolfpack can persuade the New Zealand star to join.

Coach Brian McDermott confirmed the Wolfpack, fresh from their win over Featherstone Rovers in the Million Pound Game, were interested in securing the dual-code international's services.

He believes signing the All Blacks veteran would represent a major coup, with Williams having the star power to elevate the profile of the league, as Beckham did for Major League Soccer during his time with LA Galaxy.

"Sonny Bill Williams has shown interest in us and that's what it is at the moment," said McDermott, who won four Grand Finals when in charge of Leeds Rhinos.

"He's currently busy with the [Rugby] World Cup so I wouldn't ever dare to suggest that he is more than interested in coming but the answer wasn't a 'no' once we made contact so that's something we'd like to follow up.

"Our club would want to have a name that's absolutely international that everybody would recognise and help the profile of our game, very much like David Beckham did for Major League Soccer.

"But he would have to be a very good player as well, he's got to be able to do the job that I want him to do. There would be no token player or just a headline-grabbing player."

The Barrett brothers celebrated making Rugby World Cup history by scoring a try apiece as ruthless holders New Zealand hammered Canada 63-0 at Oita Stadium on Wednesday.

Beauden Barrett, Jordie Barrett and Scott Barrett became the first siblings to play in the same All Blacks side in a World Cup and they all made their mark in a nine-try drubbing.

All three brothers touched down along with Sonny Bill Williams, Rieko Ioane, Shannon Frizell and Brad Weber (two) after New Zealand were awarded an early penalty try.

Five of the tries came in a spell of 16 second-half minutes as Steve Hansen's side ran riot to go second in Pool B behind Italy, after starting their quest to win the Web Ellis Cup for an unprecedented third consecutive time with a win over South Africa.

The outstanding Richie Mo'unga scored 16 points with the boot - nailing all eight conversions - and Ardie Savea became the first player to wear goggles in a World Cup match but whipped them off soon after coming on.

New Zealand made an ominous start with huge backing from an expectant crowd and Romain Poite awarded a penalty try with only four minutes gone, Gordon McRorie punished for trying to steal a ball while a scrum drove Canada beyond their own line.

Jordie Barrett took a crossfield kick from Mo'unga to add a second try and Williams stepped inside and ploughed over for another before turning provider for Beauden Barrett with a clever kick.

The humidity made the ball tricky to handle in the first half, but New Zealand shifted through the gears after the break to put on a show with conditions easing.

Williams darted between a couple of defenders before setting up a simple finish for Ioane and Scott Barrett rounded off a slick move after fumbling as he went to touch down in the first half.

Frizell went over following an initial break from Ioane and New Zealand had four tries in the first 10 minutes of the second half when the rapid Beauden Barrett sprinted 60 metres to lay on a first Test try for Weber.

Mo'unga started that move with a brilliant take and offload, and the magnificent fly-half slipped in Weber for a double before maintaining his 100 per cent record from the tee.

Beauden Barrett missed out on a brace when he dropped the ball running clear right at the end, but that would have been no consolation for battered Canada.

 

Mo'unga magic makes Canada suffer

Mo'unga showed New Zealand's strength in depth with a brilliant performance at number 10, showing great vision and skill with ball in hand and producing a flawless display with the boot.

Full-back masterclass from brilliant Beauden

Beauden Barrett showed his class at full-back with a superb all-round display, taking high balls, charging through the Canada defence with a sharp turn of foot and also performing his defensive duties magnificently - the highlight being a great saving tackle to deny Peter Nelson a first-half try.

Key Opta Facts:

- New Zealand have won each of their six Tests against Canada, with their last five victories in that run coming by margins of 50-plus points.
- The All Blacks have won each of their last 16 Rugby World Cup matches, the longest run by any side in the tournament's history, while they also boast a 100 per cent win rate in pool stage matches at the World Cup (30/30).
- This is the 32nd time that a match has been won by 60-plus points at the Rugby World Cup, New Zealand have been the winning side in 13 of those matches, over twice as many as any other side (England, Australia both five). 
- All three Barrett brothers scored a try in the same game for New Zealand for the first time; Beauden and Jordie Barrett had crossed the try line in the same game once before (v Italy in November 2018).
- Sonny Bill Williams and Sam Whitelock have each won their last 16 Rugby World Cup games, equaling Keven Mealamu for the all-time record of consecutive wins at the tournament.

What's next?

The holders will be expected to rack up another big score against Namibia on Sunday, while Canada will be in for another daunting encounter with the Springboks two days later.

Sonny Bill Williams will miss New Zealand's Rugby Championship clash against Australia as the All Blacks named a 34-man squad for the two Bledisloe Cup Tests.

Williams is set to play two games with Counties Manukau, including their Mitre 10 Cup opener, while missing the meeting with the Wallabies in Perth on August 10.

However, the 33-year-old will re-join the All Blacks squad for their clash against Australia in Auckland a week later.

Nepo Laulala will also play for Counties but he will join up with New Zealand for the first game in Perth.

"Bledisloe Cup Tests are always massive Tests," All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen said in a release on Wednesday.

"We know that the Wallabies will be confident after their win over Argentina and desperate to win this first match, so we're looking forward to getting to Perth and getting into our Test preparation.

"The Bledisloe Cup is the second most important trophy for us, after the Rugby World Cup, and we're really looking forward to the next two Tests coming up.

"Two weeks together will give us solid preparation towards growing our game understanding and getting our execution honed, so that's exciting.

"The last time the All Blacks played in Perth was way back in 1992 [against a Western Australia side] but this will be an historic first Test for us in the city, so we're also looking forward to catching up with our fans over there."

The All Blacks have held the Bledisloe Cup since 2003, while they are second to South Africa in the Rugby Championship ahead of the final matches of the tournament.

New Zealand: Beauden Barrett, Jordie Barrett, Scott Barrett, George Bridge, Sam Cane, Dane Coles, Liam Coltman, Braydon Ennor, Vaea Fifita, Owen Franks, Jack Goodhue, Jackson Hemopo, Rieko Ioane, Luke Jacobson, Nepo Laulala, Ngani Laumape, Anton Lienert-Brown, Joe Moody, Atu Moli, Richie Mo'unga, TJ Perenara, Kieran Read, Sevu Reece, Ardie Savea, Aaron Smith, Ben Smith, Angus Ta'avao, Codie Taylor, Matt Todd, Patrick Tuipulotu, Ofa Tu'ungafasi, Brad Weber, Samuel Whitelock, Sonny Bill Williams.

Sonny Bill Williams is a doubt for New Zealand's Rugby Championship opener against Argentina due to a hamstring injury.

The Blues centre was this week named in the initial All Blacks squad for the clashes with the Pumas in Buenos Aires on July 20 and South Africa in Wellington a week later.

Williams may not be available to feature for the world champions, though, as he is suffering from a tight hamstring.

The 33-year-old missed much of the Super Rugby season after undergoing knee surgery.

Williams played 50 minutes in a club match for Ponsonby against Grammar TEC last week before suffering another fitness setback.

The powerful midfielder has been linked with a return to rugby league after the Rugby World Cup in Japan.

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