Sonny Bill puts off holiday for Roosters return

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Sonny Bill Williams had been on the verge of taking a European vacation with family until a call from the Sydney Roosters shook him out of holiday mode and reignited his competitive fires, he said on Wednesday.

FILE PHOTO: Rugby League - Super League - Salford Red Devils v Toronto Wolfpack - AJ Bell Stadium, Salford, Britain - February 8, 2020 Toronto Wolfpack's Sonny Bill Williams arrives at the ground before the match Action Images/Ed Sykes

Williams, who has represented New Zealand in both rugby league and union, is expected to land in Sydney this week ahead of a second stint with the National Rugby League (NRL) champions having been granted a release by Toronto Wolfpack.

With Toronto pulling out of the restart of Europe’s Super League competition due to the financial problems wrought by COVID-19, England-based Williams said his mind was far from rugby league when Roosters coach Trent Robinson got in touch.

“To be honest, I hadn’t trained for a bit,” Williams told Australian broadcaster Nine Network.

“I had been in holiday mode. My wife and I had booked flights for a little European holiday.

“Trent just gave me a call and inquired about what was happening over here.

“He hit me up and asked if I had a couple of months in me to come back.

“It is just the challenge that I get so excited about and it lights that fire inside of me.”

Williams, who had signed a reported A$10 million ($7.17 million) two-year deal with the Wolfpack, played a key role in the Roosters’ 2013 championship season.

The 34-year-old will need to spend 14 days in isolation after arriving Down Under as part of COVID-19 quarantine restrictions.

Robinson said last week he expected Williams, who won two rugby union World Cups with the All Blacks, to be ready for selection about a month before the NRL playoffs.

($1 = 1.3953 Australian dollars)

Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Peter Rutherford