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In 1990, when All Blacks deputy number 10 Frano Botica made the decision to switch to league, he spoke of his only talent being a football player.

He had no trade to offer an employer, he said, other than an ability with a rugby ball, hence his decision to earn as much as he could, while he could. Sonny Bill Williams, who today announced he was leaving New Zealand rugby, is, apart from being a handy boxer, in the much the same boat as Botica was.

That’s why no one should begrudge his move back to the NRL, via a stint in Japanese rugby, next year. There’s perhaps another seven years for Williams to make as much as he can before being discarded on to the scrapheap of pro sportsman, probably with an aching body. If he’s lucky and develops a cultivated air with the media, a la David Beckham, he may have an ambassadorial role, but he won’t be counting on it.

New Zealand and Australia’s tall poppy brigade had their scythes sharpened and ready to go today, reminding anyone who would listen that SBW walked out on the Bulldogs in 2007. It’s true, but we all made mistakes at 21 (probably made them yesterday), Williams’ biggest being listening to advice to sign a long-term contract that was seriously underpaying him, and then listening to advice not to see the season out.

He’s since learnt, the NZRU saying all his dealing have been up-front and transparent. Being a football player since 16, until his fateful move to France when he left the Bulldogs, his life experience had consisted mainly of living in a rugby league fishbowl in Sydney. Now he can further expand his horizons, soaking up culture in Japan, boxing in South Africa – all while setting himself up.

Those eager to slay a guy for wanting to do the best for himself are lying if they say they wouldn’t change jobs for a better paypacket and a more colourful future, and jealous if they continue to beat their drums of discontent. You can also bet that they’ll be among the first watching the exciting, more-fulfilled SBW ply his ever-improving trade next year.

 

BLUB SESSION ANDY'S BIGGEST ERROR

Despite the roof being placed over Wimbledon during the weekend's final, drops of moisture still landed on the precious grass at game’s end.

It was an embarrassing scene, those beads of liquid tumbling from the eyes of Andy Murray. Poor old Andy Murray, carrying the weight of England, even though he’s Scottish.

During Wimbledon, much was made of Murray’s transformation from skinny teen in 2005 to strong, solid player in 2012. He was now more mature, his fans said, his petulance and surliness a thing of the past. Murray was now a man, the call rang out. 

Yeah … still a little way to go, people.

Perhaps, such was the cringeworthiness of his emotional little episode, he should have launched it at the game’s start. Federer, known for his concentration, surely would not have been able stay composed at such a babyish display.

Man up, Murray. Maybe next year.


Talkback


OPINION: Sonny Bill Williams returns to rugby league's NRL
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