MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Australia’s National Rugby League (NRL) is prepared to give Sonny Bill Williams an exemption from a contractual rule which would allow the New Zealander to play for the champion Sydney Roosters, league boss Peter V’landys said on Monday.
Dual code international Williams was released by Toronto Wolfpack after the Canadian team pulled out of the restart of Super League Europe due to financial challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Players are not allowed to sign with an NRL team if they hold a playing contract outside the league but V’landys said an exception could be made for Williams if he were still contracted to Toronto.
“One option is that he only has one contract with whatever (NRL) club he goes to,” V’landys told reporters on Monday.
“If that’s not the case we will change the rules to give us flexibility to adapt to the two-contract situation but give exemption for specific circumstances like this one.
“We will look at anything that’s for the benefit of the game ... We should look at every case on its merits, we should not have blanket rules that stop you from doing things for the benefit of the game.”
Williams’s two-year deal with Wolfpack is worth a reported A$10 million (5.55 million pounds).
Roosters coach Trent Robinson said last week that the NRL champions were on the brink of finalising a deal with Williams, who was integral in their 2013 championship season.
V’landys said tweaking the contracts rule for Williams would not be unfair on other clubs, adding that the league wanted to bring another eight offshore players to Australia to help teams with injury-hit rosters.
“We do not show fear or favouritism. Just because it’s the Roosters, (they) shouldn’t be penalised,” he said.
Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Peter Rutherford