On a cold Auckland night in October 1999, the might of the Australian Kangaroos went down in a nail biter to New Zealand at Ericsson Stadium. The game is long forgotten by most.
But one kid would remember it as the night that changed his life forever. It would become the catalyst for a meteoric, and always controversial, rise to the top.
On that night in Auckland, a 13 year old ball boy watched on from the sidelines.
Watching his idols, ball in hand, he nervously followed the play up and down the field.
Like all kids, he dreamt of being the star. If only he knew what kind of star he would become.
Fourteen years on, Sonny Bill Williams returns to the National Rugby League as the greatest marketing tool in sports. At least in this hemisphere anyway.
Its hard to argue with his credentials or his ability to drag people through the turnstiles. Sonny is the perfect footballing specimen.
Definitely hard to swallow but that’s the way it is.
As Australians, we are light years behind the rest of the world when it comes to how we view our sport stars. While the rest of the planet accept the nomadic millionaire existence of their sporting heroes, we still value loyalty and consistency year after year.
And we do this at our own peril.
He walked out on the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs and never looked back.
Granted the way he went about it was terrible and sure he hurt a lot of people. But in the grand scheme of things, Williams is far from the baddest or most evil man we have on our planet.
If Sonny wants to play in the NRL, lets use him. Lets market the hell out of him and use him the same way he used the Bulldogs.
“It’s a done deal. I made it a long time ago,” Williams told the Sydney Morning Herald last month.
“I know where I’m playing next year and I’m ready to meet the challenge head-on. There’s no more negotiations that need to be done.”
Some rugby league fans would go as far as calling him the devil reincarnated. Forget the mistakes he has made. We are all allowed to make them.
But if you still cant forgive what he done to our game, try forgetting for at least twelve months and lets squeeze this sucker for all he is worth.