Sonny Bill Williams says the Sydney Roosters must become familiar with pain and exhaustion if they are to win the NRL premiership.

The Roosters are now just one game away from reaching the grand final following Saturday night's 4-0 qualifying final win over Manly - the lowest scoring finals clash since St George beat Illawarra by the same margin in 1992.

Williams declared the brutal encounter at Allianz Stadium in Sydney as one of the toughest games he'd been involved in as the 2013 minor premiers booked a week off on the back of a stunning defensive performance.

The dual international made 41 tackles and clocked up almost 120 metres with the ball in another outstanding display since returning to league after a five-year stint in rugby.


"It was tough, I haven't played in one of those games for a long time," Williams said. "It was tough not just physically but mentally... I was hurting out there, especially in that last 10 minutes. But when you see boys covering for you and you know they're hurting it just makes you want to do the same."

Williams said Saturday night's game brought back memories of the 2004 grand final when Canterbury beat the Roosters 16-13.

The back-rower was still a teenager when he played 60 minutes off the bench and said the similarities were stark.

"It was funny, I got a bit of a flashback about how tough it was out there," he said. "When I was down on my haunches I remember that same feeling against the Roosters in 2004.

"To win in a couple of weeks we are going to have to go through the pain barrier again and again."

Although he's still undecided on whether he'll take up the option of a second year with the Roosters, Williams said he's been delighted to play such a crucial role in the side's outstanding campaign.

"I've been happy with my form. That's the most pleasing thing because I am probably my hardest critic," he said.