November 6, 2019 / 4:50 AM / 12 days ago

NZ's Williams set for record code switch with Toronto: reports

(Reuters) - All Blacks centre Sonny Bill Williams is to become the highest paid player in either of rugby’s two codes after agreeing to join Canadian side Toronto Wolfpack on a two-year, A$10 million ($6.90 million) deal, Australian media reported.

Rugby Union - Rugby World Cup - Bronze Final - New Zealand v Wales - Tokyo Stadium, Tokyo, Japan - November 1, 2019 New Zealand's Sonny Bill Williams celebrates with his daughter after the match REUTERS/Peter Cziborra

The Wolfpack will play in England’s top-tier Super League next year and are bankrolled by Australian mining tycoon David Argyle, who said in February they were interested in making Williams their marquee signing and had reached out to his agent.

It would mark the fourth code switch in the career of the 34-year-old Williams, who has won the Rugby World Cup twice with the All Blacks as well as the 2004 National Rugby League Premiership with the Bulldogs.

Australia’s Nine News reporter Danny Weidler said Williams had accepted Toronto’s lucrative offer.

“He’s made his mind up to play for the Toronto Wolfpack,” Weidler told the Nine News bulletin. “The deal is stunning — $10 million for two years’ work. Incredible money.”

NZ Rugby Chairman Brent Impey was hopeful that Williams would return to New Zealand at one point.

“If he does take that offer, we wish him all the best, on the surface it obviously looks like a terrific deal,” Impey told reporters.

“We hold him in very high regard and when his playing career finishes, I’m not sure in what role, but I believe he has things to offer us here at New Zealand Rugby, absolutely.”

The Wolfpack were founded in 2016 and played their first game a year later.

They were promoted to the Super League for the first time after beating Featherstone Rovers in the Championship playoff final last month and kick off their 2020 season against Castleford Tigers at Headingley Stadium in England on Feb. 2.

Reporting by Simon Jennings in Bengaluru;Editing by Peter Rutherford

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