Toronto Wolfpack claim Sonny Bill Williams is interested in joining them
Last Updated: 10/10/19 4:45pm
All Blacks star Sonny Bill Williams has expressed an interest in joining Super League newcomers Toronto Wolfpack, head coach Brian McDermott has revealed.
The Canadian outfit are on the lookout for big-name signings following their promotion from the Championship and intend to follow up on their initial approach to the dual-code international once his Rugby World Cup commitments are over.
McDermott says Toronto want to bring in a David Beckham-type player to do for the Wolfpack what the former Manchester United favourite did for LA Galaxy and that Williams fits the bill.
"Sonny Bill Williams has shown interest in us and that's what it is at the moment," said McDermott.
"He's currently busy with the World Cup so I wouldn't ever dare to suggest that he is more than interested in coming but the answer wasn't a 'no' once we made contact so that's something we'd like to follow up."
Toronto, who do not take any central funding, have been bankrolled from their formation three years ago by Australian mining magnate David Argyle and he remains committed to bringing in big-name recruits despite stepping down as chairman.
"Our club would want to have a name that's absolutely international that everybody would recognise and help the profile of our game, very much like David Beckham did for Major League Soccer," said McDermott.
"But he would have to be a very good player as well, he's got to be able to do the job that I want him to do. There would be no token player or just a headline-grabbing player.
"So, whoever it may be, you go mention the five highest-profile rugby players - league or union - around the world and we'd be interested and our club would get those.
"David Argyle will resource each one of those signings."
The Wolfpack spent heavily on recruitment following the appointment of former Leeds boss McDermott 12 months ago and director of rugby Brian Noble says the plan is to keep 90 per cent of the players that helped gain promotion.
McDermott says the club have already identified key targets and will aim to finalise deals ahead of the start of pre-season training on November 10.
"We need at least four players - somebody in the front row, an outside back, a back row and someone around the ruck area - and there are four players there that we've identified," he added.
"We've been on with recruitment all year but the reality is those people we were speaking to weren't sure whether we would be in Super League or not so we'll be having more solid conversations now."
Toronto realised their five-year plan to reach Super League with two years to spare and McDermott says the priority in 2020 will be to avoid relegation.
"The reality is we want to survive first," he said. "You look at what London Broncos did this year, which I thought was extremely good and they won a load of games, but the dynamic was that everybody around them won a lot of games as well so they ultimately ended up getting relegated.
"So survival for sure is the reality of what we've got to do but quietly look a bit further towards the top end than the bottom end."