Opinion: Most SBW ‘haters’ never met him
Mon, 09 Jul 2012 5:03p.m.
Opinion By Jim Kayes
It’s no surprise that Sonny Bill Williams is trending in social media. He’s a sensation with traditional media too.
For a man many love to hate, Williams is staggeringly popular as his 145,000 Twitter follows can attest. He seems to have it all - a bit of a bad boy reputation that he’s worked hard to shed, a winning smile and (so the ladies say) a fair bit of sex appeal. He can also play a bit.
It wasn’t always the case.
When he came to New Zealand rugby via Toulon in 2010 Williams looked what he was – a league man trying to play the more complex 15-man game. He improved considerably last year but it’s this season with the Chiefs and for the All Blacks against Ireland, that he found his groove.
Told by Chiefs coach Dave Rennie to limit his use of the offload and simply power through and past would-be defenders, Williams has been largely unstoppable in Super Rugby and in the third test against Ireland.
Just as Johan Lomu did with his size, pace, power and ability to score tries, SBW has captivated the rugby audience with his ability to produce audacious plays.
Both men were attention grabbers on and off the field with their celebrity status casted a net far wider than the traditional rugby audience But few took exception when it came to Lomu, the gentle giant (off the field) from south Auckland.
Williams hasn’t been spared his ‘haters’ – as the social media term for critics goes. Some have rather feral views on his worth, ability and morals.
Most will have never met the man who, in his dealings with the media, is polite and mostly helpful.
Williams was asked when he announced he was off to Japan and then back to the NRL, how he would cope with the inevitable backlash in Sydney given he walked out on a five year deal with the Bulldogs. He was philosophical, suggesting there was little he could do about public opinion. He’s wrong.
Williams has won over most of the New Zealand rugby public with his deeds on the field and his humility off it.
He has the chance to do the same again now with Australia’s league fans.
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9/07/2012 5:38:19 p.m.
No... he's not wrong. He will never be forgiven in Aus.
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