With his long-awaited, hugely-hyped return out of the way, Sonny Bill Williams’ focus now shifts to his first starting appearance this weekend, fittingly to be played at Eden Park, the same ground where Williams helped the All Blacks capture the Rugby World Cup less than a year and a half ago.
Despite having got that first appearance under his belt the media attention surrounding SBW has yet to die down.
In fact, if anything it has grown, due in no small part to the unusual, unprecedented monologue which was broadcast during the live coverage of the Roosters v Rabbitohs game as Williams warmed up on the sideline before entering the fray for the first time.
Several times during that game the cameras panned to a section of the crowd where a group of supporters wearing Bulldogs’ jerseys (the team Williams walked out on midway through the 2008 season) were gathered, passionately displaying a huge sign with the words ‘SBW – We Haven’t Forgotten’ on it, a clear indication the hype will continue to build until the Round 6 clash between the Roosters and the Bulldogs at Allianz Stadium.
But even this week the attention of fans and commentators alike focuses very much on SBW.
It’s no coincidence that this clash is one the Warriors’ management decided to shift to the much larger Eden Park, ensuring they could make the most of what is sure to be a very large gate.
Unfortunately for Williams, all this attention could easily backfire. He’s not the only quality recruit the Roosters have signed for this season, but the hopes of the club and it’s fans rest squarley on his broad shoulders.
Regardless of his individual performance, if the Roosters fail against the Warriors this weekend and slump to 0-2 it won’t be long before the headlines start to speak of Sonny Bill’s ‘failed’ return to Rugby League.