Sonny Bill Williams is another step closer to an NRL return with the dual-code star leaving his English base to prepare to enter quarantine.
Williams tweeted on Friday night to say he was ‘travelling home’, although he did not specify whether that related to Australia or New Zealand.
Regardless of where he lands, the 34-year-old will need to complete two weeks in quarantine due to the coronavirus.
It comes as the Sydney Roosters remain confident they will capture his signature, with coach Trent Robinson adamant he can be of value to the defending premiers.
‘It’s been a crazy few days in our household,’ Williams tweeted.
‘One minute we’re settling the kids into schools over here, next minute we’re travelling home.
‘No matter what the next chapter holds as long as we have Allah in our hearts we’ll be fine. #AlwaysAlhamdullilah #ExcitedForQuarantine’
Williams would need approval from Australian Border Force to arrive in the country, given he is not an Australian citizen.
However his cause would be helped by the fact his wife is, while other players such as Luke Thompson at Canterbury have previously been given exemptions.
ARL Commission chairman Peter V’landys said on Friday he expected Williams would be able to enter the country, but the NRL would help if required.
‘He’s a big brand and he’ll certainly attract a lot of attention to our sport,’ V’landy’s told 2GB on Friday morning.
‘We’ll help them in any way we can but we certainly won’t be providing any financial assistance. It might not be the Roosters, it might be another club.
‘When you’ve got a player of the magnitude of Sonny Bill Williams you do everything you can to get him into our competition.’
If Williams is to sign, it’s unlikely he would be available before round 15, given he would still need to resume training after quarantine.
But Robinson has indicated on Friday that would be worth the wait to have the second-rower available for the end of the regular season and finals.
He has also stayed in contact with Roosters training staff since returning to rugby league this year, having kept a close bond since winning a title at the club in 2013.
Meanwhile there are bigger contractual issues to clear.
As things stand, Williams cannot hold two deals at the same time and he cannot be on loan from any club outside of the NRL.
It means he would have to terminate the second year of his deal at the Toronto Wolfpack, believed to be worth around $5 million.
He could then sign a similar deal with the Wolfpack for next year if both parties were still interested, although that could be in question given the Canadian club’s plight.
A similar situation – albeit with less money – also awaits the Wolfpack’s other former NRL players such as Ricky Leutele and Darcy Lussick.