Sonny Bill Williams shot down questions regarding his involvement in the 2021 World Cup insisting he has to prove himself in Super League first.
Toronto’s new marquee signing is returning to the 13-man code after five years in rugby union and insists it is too early to contemplate representing either Samoa or New Zealand in next year’s competition.
“I’ve been away for five years and for me to start thinking about playing for New Zealand or Samoa is ridiculous,” he said.
“I’m here, and I’m fully focused on being with the Toronto boys to see if I can play the 13-man game. I always have a point to prove, no matter where I am. I wouldn’t still be around after 18 or 19 years if I didn’t have that inner drive to succeed.
“I’m excited about playing in Super League because I’ve always enjoyed playing in England, but as a footy player, I know how to get the best out of myself.”
Despite missing the club’s only pre-season game against Castleford, the 34-year-old insisted he is fit and ready for selection when the two clubs meet again on February 2nd in what is Toronto’s first-ever Super League game.
“I’m feeling pretty good. If I can get through the next few weeks I’ll certainly be putting my hand up.
“He (Brian McDermott) has been a coach for a long time, but I’ve been a player for a long time. I’m sure we’ll have that conversation, but the one thing I admire about the coach is that he understands this is a long game.
“We’ve had that dialogue I want to be flying at the end of the year, not necessarily at the start. I haven’t played for five years and when I do I’ll be a bit rusty but I’m just banking on hard work, keeping it simple and fitting into how the Toronto boys way, then putting my flavour on top.
“I’ve been conditioned to play the 15-man game for the last five years so I’m just trying to get my running legs. It’s a bit of a process but by round 1 I’ll be ready to go.”
Williams confirmed he will return to New Zealand after the club’s round 2 clash with Salford on February 8th to attend the birth of his child. He will miss the club’s clash with Wigan, but will return in time for their round 4 game away at Warrington.
“I’m really grateful that the club and the coach have allowed me to do that,” he said.
“I think the reason why I connect so well with these guys is because they understand that for a fully functioning player to be at his best they have to be a well-rounded person coming into the setup every day. I really appreciate these guys and how they operate.”