Gal: What I really think of Sonny Bill Williams

NRL great PAUL GALLEN writes exclusively for Wide World of Sports and will appear on Nine's 100 FOOTY% on Monday night, debating rugby league's big issues alongside Phil Gould and James Bracey. Watch from 7.30pm AEST on Gem!

Sonny Bill Williams is one of a kind.

He's had a fantastic career in which he's succeeded in everything he's done.

I've got nothing for respect for him, given what he's achieved in rugby league, rugby union and boxing.

Yet I've always found it intriguing how Sonny has managed his career.

On one hand, he seems exactly the type of player you want to play with.

On the other hand, he doesn't seem to have a lot of team focus, at least in the big picture sense.

SONNY BILL WILLIAMS will appear on 100% FOOTY on Monday night, alongside PAUL GALLEN. Don't miss it - watch from 7.30pm AEST on Gem!

Sonny has always done the best thing for Sonny. Look at what happened at the Bulldogs. Then after that, he goes overseas and signs short-term deals, which he's continued doing throughout his career.

It's a credit to him in the sense that he backs himself and his ability. But in a sport where the club and the team always need to be bigger than the individual, I've always found that dynamic really interesting.

I've never played with him, only against him, so I haven't seen how he operates first-hand.

He's an outstanding player who can do things on the field that others can't, yet Sonny's going to do what Sonny wants to do. He wants to do it his way and I'm not sure exactly how that fits into a team environment.

The fact that the Roosters wanted him back speaks volumes. The Roosters and their coach, Trent Robinson, are all about the club's achievements over the individual's, so Sonny must slot in pretty well.

Maybe it's simply that he puts the team first once he's actually there. If he signs a two-year deal, he at least finds a team-first mentality within the span of that contract.

Plenty of teams have wanted him over the years, despite the off-field circus that follows his career choices. Whatever he does within his teams must work.

I'm an advocate for players doing the best for themselves. But for me, there has to be more to it than that in a team sport.

Not even my biggest detractors could claim that I ever did the wrong thing by the Cronulla Sharks, particularly financially.

I was never paid overs. I always stayed there for less money; a lot less money in some instances, which has been well-documented.

As a result, my teammates always knew where I stood and what I was about. My club and my team came first.

I don't begrudge a player going after big money, as Sonny has done, but I always wondered how he then went about fitting in with his teams. Again, the regard in which he's held at the Roosters probably tells you that he fits in fine.

I saw some of Sonny's games in the Super League. It was probably a bit hard for him, arriving on that $10 million contract with Toronto Wolfpack.

With big money comes big expectation and you can't say that Sonny lived up to any of it. He was the main man despite being at the back end of his career and he was copping all the opposition's attention.

If you're the opposition defensive coach, you almost just double-team him. Put two defenders on him and because he's going to try so hard, he'll come up with errors; which he did.

But in this Roosters team, that won't be his job. He won't have to be that player.

As I've said previously, his signing is a huge advantage for the Roosters. Especially given they've had a few injuries, yet are still putting a strong team on the field every week, thanks to their depth.

He'll probably play 30 minutes a game, max. And to have Sonny at the club, with his professionalism, training ethic and how he looks after himself, it will really rub off on other players.

I've heard stories from a bloke in England about when Andrew Johns went to the Super League with Warrington.

He told me the amount of extras that the players started doing before he arrived, to make sure that they were fit and strong and ready to play with this god of rugby league, was just amazing. They badly wanted to lift to get to Joey's level.

I can see that happening at the Roosters with Sonny, particularly with the younger players.

Lindsay Collins is the first one who comes to mind, plus Sitili Tupouniua, Poasa Faamausili and Nat Butcher. The example that Sonny sets with preparation and work ethic could be huge for those guys.

As for Sonny himself, the Roosters will just have fingers crossed that he can stay healthy. At his age, that mostly means avoiding soft tissue injuries.

We're talking four games plus finals and it's not like he's a 20-year-old kid who you need to toughen up for an NRL season. He only needs to be fit enough to get on the field, get some match fitness in those last few games of the regular season and then, come the semi-finals, he'll be a huge bonus for the Roosters.

THE FIGHT THAT'S NEVER HAPPENED

Sonny Bill Williams was spoken about for my very first fight.

At that stage, I said no straight away. Sonny had had some fights and I hadn't.

I agreed to a contract with Sonny and his manager, Khoder Nasser, about four years ago. I had in my head that it probably wasn't going to happen but I just wanted to see, so I agreed to figures less than a 50-50 split. Much less.

It didn't eventuate. That doesn't exactly fill me with confidence for a fight happening now, when they wouldn't fight me even back then under the terms of that contract.

I've now gone past the number of fights that Sonny's had and in the past few years I've consistently said: "Let's do it."

I'm not sure it will ever happen. Sonny is the one who needs to be asked. I get a bit sick of being asked about it; I've been saying yes for years and there's not a lot coming back from the other side.

I don't think they'll fight me for 50-50 but it won't be for too much less, for my part. It's a 50-50 fight but I know the mentality that Sonny and Khoder have.

Would I beat Sonny? Yes.

It'd be a good fight; he's a big guy with some experience under his belt. But I know that with the pressure I put on, if he can't get me out of there in the first few rounds, I'd come over the top of him and wear him out.

That's the way I fight. He's probably going to be able to hit me, catch me a few times when I'm coming in like Barry Hall did, but then I can catch up with him and win the fight.

Hopefully we get to find out one day. The questions are getting boring. Let's just do it.

If Sonny and Barry fight, fine. Though I laughed when I saw all the hype break out over that because to be honest, we'll be lucky if any fights happen this year.

It's the same for me versus Mark Hunt, a fight to which I've agreed yet still haven't gotten a contract. COVID-19 has unfortunately ruined everything; what NSW venue is going to host a capacity crowd for a sporting event this year?

Even when it becomes possible, Sonny's all about the dollars. I can't imagine what the split for a fight between he and Barry would be ... 80-20 to Sonny? 90-10?

I know the kind of money that Sonny wants to make and Barry doesn't bring much to the table, to be fair.

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