The Canberra Raiders NRL team is calling for cost exemptions across the competition after former All Blacks back Sonny Bill Williams' expensive return to the competition.

Williams rejoined the Sydney Roosters last month, penning a $150,000 short-term contract.

He was playing for the Toronto Wolfpack in the UK Super League as part of a two-year deal (reportedly worth $10 million), but the club withdrew from the competition due to financial constraints brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Williams' move downunder comes with plenty of costs due to accommodation and relocation for Williams and his family, who are currently in quarantine in a luxury Sydney apartment, as part of their mandatory 14-day isolation period.


It creates a hefty bill which the Roosters are footing, but it will not count against their salary cap, courtesy of the NRL. The club received approval to pay for the expenses for up to 28 days.

But the club has not been tight in its spending. The Williams family are luxuriating in a three-bedroom penthouse in the Sydney CBD overlooking the harbour. A home gym has also been installed in the apartment by Roosters staff.

Sonny Bill Williams and his family are indulging in a lavish Sydney penthouse during quarantine. Photo / Getty
Sonny Bill Williams and his family are indulging in a lavish Sydney penthouse during quarantine. Photo / Getty

It contradicts the 'unwritten' rule of a $10,000 spend limit on catering to new players from overseas.

Raiders CEO Don Furner told The Sydney Morning Herald he hopes the league will adjust the spending rules for all teams.

"The reasonableness test was always tough, but it sounds like it is being loosened," Furner said.

"If that's the way they want to go, that's fine, but as long as it applies to every other club.

"That actually opens the floodgates because the figure for clubs has always been capped at $10,000. If a player comes from England, you could spend up to $10,000, and it was up to the club if you spend that money on flights, accommodation or even removalists."

Furner is content with the league's decision, saying "at least we know now".


"It was never a written rule, it was the unspoken rule, and that figure was always what was considered reasonable," he said.

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It appears only rugby league-related costs are exempt. The toys that have been set-up by the club for Williams' children are included in the cap.

Williams is yet to join the team, and coach Trent Robinson expects him to suit up in week 17 – a match coincidentally against the Raiders.