Malcolm Boyle: Off to Land of Rising Sonny

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Sonny Bill Williams. Photo / Getty Images
Sonny Bill Williams. Photo / Getty Images

It's official. Sayonara SBW-san. Deepest bows again (and again) as the Khoder Nasser Express departs Hamilton for Tokyo and riches hitherto unseen in the world of international rugby.

A one-way, non-stop ticket as far as we know, courtesy of the man with the gift of the golden calculator, a money-making machine some say is stuck on a commission rate of 20 per cent-plus for everything his most illustrious clients - Anthony "The Man" Mundine and Sonny Bill-san - can kick into the tin.

All this for a humble little (OK, not so little) tyke from the Marist Rugby League Club in Auckland. So I'd be dishonouring the memory of SBW's legendary, pioneering, league grandfather Bill Woolsey if I didn't offer the talented young man some advice about what he is likely to find in the land of cherry blossom rugby.

Bill Woolsey was famous for ending many fights he didn't start and for the unique way he helped under-the-weather mates fast-track their passage to the head of taxi queues - which usually involved an initial polite request and then his two massive fists.

Sonny Bill should bear in mind that when he finds himself in the Land of the Rising Sun, he won't be able to escape the feeling that he is looking down on a nation of halfbacks. There is an upside to this when he sees how easy it will be to scope the talent in crowded nightclubs. As a 190cm second five-eighths, he'll be pleased to note how often he starts appearing in lineout ball-winning statistics.

On a more personal note, if the urge takes him to finish off that striking artwork on his right shoulder and upper arm, beware ... I hear downtown Tokyo prices for tattoo makeovers are through the roof this year.

We all know Tokyo is a crowded city and full of weird and wonderful sights and sounds, so SBW will have to learn to trust his instincts.

If he sees someone in nappies and bare-chested in the street, it probably isn't Richard Loe on his way to a sumo wrestling class.

He may notice in passing, a large palace in the middle of the city. In fact I understand this has been earmarked as an upmarket housing estate for SBW's increasing entourage.

It won't have escaped those who saw his final press conference in New Zealand that there are already too many Chiefs and not enough Indians in Team SBW. Perhaps they're there so no voluntary handshake is ever missed.

All that remains is to wish Sonny Bill Williams well in his new direction. He's still got lessons to learn and goals to achieve, but he can become one of New Zealand's greatest footballers (rugby or league).

I can't buy this accusation of disloyalty from SBW's detractors - he walked out of the Canterbury Bulldogs in the NRL because he wasn't being paid what some lesser performers were. Good on him.

And his reviled management can't be accused of anything more than doing their best for their clients. That's the kind of loyalty I'd like to have from my advisers.

- Herald on Sunday

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