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Bulldogs players want SBW back at Belmore

It seems pie-in-the-sky but Canterbury players are welcoming the Bulldogs’ ambitious attempts to lure Sonny Bill Williams back to the NRL cellar dwellers next year.

The Bulldogs’ new naming-rights sponsor is reportedly pursuing Williams for 2021 after the cross-code superstar completes his late-season cameo with the Sydney Roosters.

Williams will likely be a free agent after the Toronto Wolfpack – who signed the Kiwi before the start of the Super League Europe season only to pull out of the competition last month – had their participation agreement terminated on Tuesday.

The Canadian team had said it was withdrawing from the August restart due to the financial challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic but had planned to resume in the northern hemisphere league next year.

But officials say “the Wolfpack would now have to enter into a new participation agreement before being able to play in the competition in 2021”.

“Super League’s action reflects the seriousness of the breach of contract by Toronto Wolfpack, which has impacted the league and its member clubs,” the league said in a statement.

Roosters supremo Nick Politis has reportedly offered 2013 grand final hero Williams an assistant coaching role at Bondi Junction after the 35-year-old finally hangs up his boots.

But that’s no apparently no deterrent for the Laundy family, which has come to the party as a major Bulldogs sponsor.

And as Canterbury playmaker Lachlan Lewis pointed out on Tuesday: “Hey, contracts and the NRL, who knows that little question.

“I guess time will tell. Clubs need good players, Sonny Bill’s a good player.”

Forward Jesse Sue said “of course” the Bulldogs would love to have the dual international back in their ranks – despite Williams’ dramatic 2008 walkout to play rugby in France.

“We’ve got a young squad and I tink they would all appreciate him being here,” Sue said.

“A player of his calibre would bring a lot of experience and a lot of knowledge of the game and would help. He brings a lot of leadership.”

Fresh off signing a two-year contract extension, back-rower Raymond Faitala-Mariner agreed Williams’ signature would be a huge coup for the Dogs.

“With the amount of young boys that we have coming through, there needs to be some sort of guidance and to have someone like Sonny Bill, with his reputation, would be good for the club to have,” Faitala-Mariner said.

Faitala-Mariner said the Bulldogs could even employ Williams in a mentoring role similar to how Super Rugby’s Blues were using All Blacks legend Dan Carter.

“Although he (Carter) is not playing, to have that kind of guidance and experience around the young boys, you can see the way they’re playing now, they’re going really well,” Faitala-Mariner said.

“So to have Sonny Bill here at the Bulldogs would be a big plus.”

Passionate Bulldogs fans have long memories but Faitala-Mariner is confident Williams would be welcomed back to Belmore with open arms.

“What happened in the day, that’s in the past now and that’s been left behind,” he said.

“We’re all looking forward and moving forward now and I think with what he’s achieved in the past, the fans will embrace him.”

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