Rugby League: Toronto Wolfpack boss Brian Noble downplays Sonny Bill Williams' reported massive salary

Toronto Wolfpack rugby director Brian Noble has hinted that Sonny Bill Williams' new salary is far less than rumours would have you believe. 

In his role, Noble should know how much the now-former All Black will receive to play for the Canadian rugby league club, newly promoted to England's Super League competition.

But when quizzed, he downplayed the deal, reportedly worth £5m (NZ$10m) over two years. 

"Reports can say anything they want, but I don't discuss finances," Noble told Newshub. "What I'll say is that we got great value for money.

"I'll be surprised... and I'm fairly confident that it's nowhere near the kind of money that's been talked about."  

Williams' new contract likely makes him the highest-paid player in the history of either rugby code. 

Manly half Daly Cherry-Evans is the highest-paid NRL player, making $1.3m per season, while a report from WalesOnline in July said Dan Carter was the highest-paid rugby player, earning £1.1m (NZ$2.21m). 

The report ranked Williams as the 14th-equal highest-paid rugby player - alongside Kieran Read and Beauden Barrett - with a New Zealand Rugby contract worth £519,000 (NZ$1.04m). 

Williams' marquee status means only the first £150,000 (NZ$301,735) of his salary will count towards the Wolfpack's salary cap, so the rest would likely come from the pocket of Australian owner and mining tycoon David Argyle. 

But Noble says that shouldn't worry Argyle, as he has a massive "crush" on Williams and was determined to sign the 34-year-old. 

"He's been on the wishlist for a couple of years. Our owner David Argyle has always had a crush on SBW and what he brings to the sport. 

Toronto coach Brian McDermott with Wolfpack director of football Brian Noble.
Toronto coach Brian McDermott with Wolfpack director of football Brian Noble. Photo credit: Photosport

"We needed to make a profile signing, we set our targets on him as No.1 and it came to fruition very quickly. 

"The phone calls have always been a no, no, no. He's had lots of offers from all over the world and ours was attractive, so the process was very quick."

But money seems to be a small aspect of the deal itself, with coach Brian McDermott saying that Williams wants to win trophies. 

"I went out to Japan last week to meet Sonny Bill and I wanted to make sure that he was signing for the right reasons," he said on the Wolfpack's Facebook page. 

"We're excited and pleased. He has told us he's coming here to win trophies - he wants to be successful, as do we." 

Noble echoes McDermott's comments, saying Williams will get no special treatment and he must perform on the field. 

"From a director-of-rugby point of view, he has to make an impact in the field," Noble told Newshub. 

"He is a magnificent signing and we wouldn't have done it, if I didn't think he could make an impact on the field. His profile brings great excitement. 

"Everyone is keen to welcome him with open arms and I think he'll love the experience." 

Williams becomes Toronto's first new signing for 2020, as the club strengthens both its profile and playing roster for its maiden Super League campaign.

Toronto had several former NRL players on its roster last season, including ex-Kiwis centre Chase Stanley and Bodene Thompson, Ricky Leuele, Josh McCrone and Ashton Sims. 

But the club has more high-profile players on its radar, reportedly including England rugby stars Manu Tuilagi and Ben Te'o. 

"We still have a shopping list. We have to go by the rules and regulations that the game has, like with the number of overseas spots and salary cap. 

"The interest is massive, but we have to be smart. We need guys who can do things for the team. 

"Canadians like a winning team, so we have to plan and be particular with who we bring in next, but we would love to bring in more superstars. 

"They have to be able to do something to the team. We can't afford to bring in guys who are giving you five-out-of-10 performances, if we're going to invest. 

"We have some homework to do." 

Noble adds that news of Williams' pending arrival has made international headlines, with even smaller rugby nations taking an interest. 

"Over the last few days, it has made international headlines. He's a big star in New Zealand, but it's been reported all over the world, including China.  

"He's a humble guy and I know what he'll bring to the team. All his process have been, 'how can I make an impact on this team?'. 

"He's a team player and a humble guy." 

The Wolfpack will officially unveil Williams at a press conference at Emirates Stadium in London on November 14, while his contract begins on December 1.

The Wolfpack start their Super League campaign against Castleford Tigers on February 3, but they won't play their first game in Canada until mid-April, due to weather. 

They will play three 'home' games at Leeds' Headingley, York's new stadium and Saracens RU's Allianz Park, before returning to Canada. 

"The climate might knock him around," Noble added. "There is a reason why we don't go to Canada until April, because it snows."

For the full interview with Biran Noble, watch the video above 


Contact Newshub with your story tips: