Most people are now aware that Sonny Bill Williams, a high profile Sydney rugby league player, has controversially walked out early on his five year contract with the Bulldogs club and signed with a French rugby club - leaving without saying a word to anyone.
Many reasons have been suggested for his departure, including money, pressure and other players leaving his club. I won't try and play psycho-analyst too much, considering he has loose cannons in his ear like Muslims Anthony Mundine and Khoder Nasser. But here is some background information about Sonny Bill to explain in part his motives.
Sonny is a poster-child of the global village melting pot: born in New Zealand, with Samoan father, white New Zealand mother, white Australian grandmother, and he has lived in Australia since he was 15-years-old. He was eligible to play football for New Zealand, Australia and Samoa - he chose New Zealand. His club is located in the heart of Middle Eastern and Muslim territory. He lives near Cronulla, a white enclave, for now.
Since signing his contract, the Bulldogs recruitment has shifted away from a Polynesian base back towards pro-white. Willie Mason left for another club. Willie Tonga is leaving next year. Reni Maitua is rumoured to quit. Roy Asotasi left in 2006. A new coach was appointed, another white guy. The Bulldogs recruiting for next year is pro-white: Brett Kimmorley, Michael Ennis, Ben Hannant, Michael Hodgson and Josh Morris. Though, like most league clubs, there is a wave of Polynesians coming up in the juniors. Anyway, the blokes Williams would have to put his arm around next year and pack into scrums with are mostly white.
Williams identifies himself as a Polynesian. He has covered himself in traditional Islander tattoos - probably a case of over-identifying to make up for his half-blood. He recently claimed that Polynesian players don't get the respect they deserve in the game. He recently got his club to allow Polynesian fans free entry into a Bulldogs game. He said he wanted to be a leader for the Polynesian community.
And then he left and signed with French rugby club Toulon. A look at their current squad shows plenty of Polynesians there. His coach there will be Tana Umaga, also of Samoan descent. The coach usually controls the recruiting. The Bulldogs coaching staff had shown their hand by recruiting pro-white.
"I want to see myself as a leader and I want to be a leader of the Polynesian people," the Bulldogs player said.And then he got on a plane and left. I think he's a confused individual. And so he should be, because he has no strong identity. He can't be a leader because he's a half-blood who was taken from his home and family at 15. He's still struggling for identity. Sure the kids look up to him, but kids are kids.
Another factor was that white Australian coach Wayne Bennett was appointed to the coaching staff of the New Zealand rugby league team. Not a comforting move for a kid craving identity.
Williams always looks uncomfortable in interviews. Australians would try to make him laugh and he would start to and then catch himself as if he shouldn't be laughing.
Sonny, although growing up in Sydney since he was 15, was also unable to qualify for rugby league's pinnacle the State of Origin series (NSW versus Queensland).
“The one this that's always burned inside of me, deep down, is not being able to play State of Origin," he told Phil Gould in an interview aired on last night's Footy Show.He's a nowhere man. Sydney, unfortunately, is also a nowhere land. South-west Sydney especially is devoid of any unifying culture. Sonny's a nowhere man, living in a nowhere land. A misfit that finds a home in the French Foreign Legion? Something like that. Ain't globalisation grand? Nah.
A couple more interesting quotes:
One of the more in-depth conversations he had with Folkes was when the coach approached him after an article incorrectly speculated that he was set to become a muslim after dumping his agent Gavin Orr for Anthony Mundine's manager Khoder Nasser. After asking if the story was true, Folkes told Williams it would be a "joke" if he converted to Islam and advised him to stay away from Mundine ...Khoder Nasser slammed over Laurie Daley attack
With Folkes announcing earlier in the year that he would stand down at the end of the season, Williams hoped Stephen Kearney would be appointed as his replacement and if the New Zealand coach had been given the job there was a good chance he would still be at the club.
The opportunity to play under the coaching of Tana Umaga, the first player of Samoan heritage to skipper the All Blacks, was a significant factor in his decision to quit the Bulldogs to play rugby union for Toulon.
July 07, 2008
FORMER rugby league champions and current NSW selectors last night described player manager Khoder Nasser as "un-Australian" and an "absolute disgrace" for his criticism of former Test captain Laurie Daley.When the sparks start to fly, identity shines through. If you're lucky enough to have one.
Nasser yesterday questioned how his client, star player Sonny Bill Williams, was overlooked for Dally M Medal points by judge Daley in the match between the Roosters and Bulldogs last Friday week.