TORONTO — The Sonny Bill Williams to Toronto move continues to pick up speed.
The BBC reported Tuesday that the All Blacks star is set to join the Toronto Wolfpack on a two-year, multi-million-dollar deal. The transatlantic rugby league team had little to say about the report, however.
"At this present time, we still have nothing to confirm," a Wolfpack spokesman said.
But the club's interest in the 34-year-old Williams, a star in both rugby codes — union and league — has been well-documented this year.
In February, Wolfpack majority owner David Argyle confirmed that his team had had "active negotiations'' with Williams' agent. Wolfpack chairman and interim CEO Bob Hunter said last week that discussions were continuing.
"We'd obviously be extremely excited about landing a player of that calibre and that notoriety," Hunter said at the time. "It would make such a big difference.''
The Wolfpack make their debut in the top-tier Super League in February after winning promotion in October in their third season. Signing a star like Williams would help them kick off life in the Northern Hemisphere's top rugby league circuit with a bang.
Williams is a rugby icon who has represented New Zealand internationally in both rugby union and rugby league. He was part of the New Zealand rugby sevens team at the 2016 Rio Olympics, partially rupturing an Achilles tendon in the All Blacks' first match.
Williams, whose resume also includes an unbeaten stint as a heavyweight pro boxer, is fresh off the All Blacks' third-place finish at the Rugby World Cup in Japan.
The Wolfpack started life in the third tier of English rugby league in 2017, winning promotion to the second-tier Betfred Championship in its first season. It won promotion to the top-tier Super League in October with a 24-6 win over Featherstone Rovers in the Million Pound Game.
Like Major League Soccer, English rugby league has a salary cap with a partial exemption for marquee players. In rugby league, the salary cap was two million pounds (C$3.38 million) in 2019. Teams can have two marquee players with each of their salary cap hits restricted to 150,000 pounds (C$251,815).
Toronto's marquee players in 2019 were Australian forward Darcy Lussick and Samoan international back Ricky Leutele.
At six foot three and some 238 pounds, Williams is a powerful runner whose ability to offload the ball in a tackle extends attacks.
He has won two rugby league championships in Australia's NRL.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 5, 2019.
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Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press