Rugby League: Sonny Bill Williams returning to New Zealand for birth of fourth child

Sonny Bill Williams' highly-anticipated Toronto Wolfpack debut is set to be delayed with the former All Black returning to New Zealand for the birth of his fourth child. 

Williams was included in the Wolfpack's 21-man squad for Monday's (NZ time) trial match against the Castleford Tigers, the same team Toronto will meet in their Super League debut on February 2.

But with his wife, Alana Raffie, about to give birth to the couples' fourth child, Wolfpack chairman Bob Hunter confirmed to the Sun-Herald that Williams would be heading back to New Zealand. 

"We're just trying to arrange his airline ticket now," Hunter said. "He needs to get back for the birth of his child, so we'll give him a few days. I think February 2 will be his first game."

In June 2018, Williams became a father for a third time when their first son, Zaid Williams was born. The name Zaid is of Muslim origin and translates to "to prosper".

The pair are already parents to daughters Aisha and Imman.

Hunter was pleased with Williams' impact on and off the training field, saying there has been much more interest in the club since his arrival, although he won't be playing on Canadian soil until April. 

"The significance of Sonny's personal brand has been wonderful," Hunter told the Sun-Herald. "On both sides of the pond, it has been very positive.

"I'd say sponsorship has increased about 25 to 30 percent, and our season ticket sales are up at least 30 percent from last year. But one of the problems is we play our first 10 games in the UK, so it's tough to get that excitement building in Toronto."

Meanwhile, the Wolfpack confirmed Williams will wear the number 21 on his back for the 2020 season. 

In English rugby league, players are assigned numbers for the entire season, compared to NRL in Australasia where your number could change every week.