Rugby superstar Sonny Bill Williams is officially joining the Toronto Wolfpack in a deal that's being described as one of the "boldest, most audacious signings" in league history.
The New Zealand-born Olympian and two-time World Cup winner is considered one of the best rugby players of all time.
"His addition to our league is comparable to when David Beckham joined L.A. Galaxy," said Wolfpack CEO Bob Hunter in a statement issued Thursday, referring to Williams as "rugby's LeBron James."
"Having someone of his talent join the Wolfpack will greatly raise the profile of the club, and also help move the game forward globally."
💯 really looking forward to the challenge. God willing it’s fruitful for all. See you guys soon ❤️✊🏽 https://t.co/lKsmlZIJHg— Sonny Bill Williams (@SonnyBWilliams) November 7, 2019
The 34-year-old athlete's decision has proven both shocking and delightful for fans around the world — as has the salary he'll be pulling in.
Sources from within the Wolfpack anonymously confirmed on Thursday that Williams had signed two-year contract worth $9 million plus an ownership stake.
Analysts say this is the most expensive contract ever signed in professional rugby. Many also say that Williams is worth the cost he commands.
Biggest signing in the history of Super League, one of the greatest rugby players of all time either code, an absolute icon. Can not wait to see Sonny Bill Williams at the DW. 👏 https://t.co/yIUkgRHZAL— Paul Kendrick (@PKendrickWIG) November 6, 2019
"Today's news is another huge win for our Toronto Wolfpack," said Toronto Mayor John Tory of the news on Thursday.
"Sonny Bill Williams is one of the best rugby players in the world and we welcome him to Toronto. Our city is proud of the success of this team so far and we’re ready to keep cheering them on in the Super League."
So it's confirmed, Sonny Bill Williams will join Toronto Wolfpack on a 2 year deal!— Funny Rugby League (@itsfunnyrugby) November 7, 2019
Here is his most iconic moment😏 pic.twitter.com/EkgJ14powq
Williams will join the Toronto Wolfpack in time for the rugby team's debut in the U.K.-based Super League next year, and is expected to bring more attention to the sport's presence in North America.
The draw is already apparent: Toronto Wolfpack tweeted not even an hour after the announcement was made that their website had crashed after under the weight of so many ticket buyers.
When’s @Drake gonna start supporting Toronto Wolfpack like he does the Raptors. Short odds on him in an SBW shirt soon— tateyb (@tateyb) November 7, 2019
"Toronto Wolfpack has established themselves as a multicultural and economic powerhouse, not only in the city but across the world," said the athlete and father of three in a statement. "The club has big ambitions and big goals.
"I want to be part of all this and do all I can to help reach those lofty goals."
by Lauren O'Neil via blogTO