The rugby league world has “SBW” fever, but Sydney Roosters coach Trent Robinson says a “ready” Sonny Bill Williams will handle the hype in his NRL return against Canberra.
All roads lead to the nation’s capital on Saturday night when Williams lines up for the Roosters in a blockbuster grand final replay against the Raiders.
The dual international hasn’t played a competitive game since March with the Toronto Wolfpack, but Robinson is confident the star forward will perform strongly.
Kayo is your ticket to the 2020 NRL Telstra Premiership. Every game of every round Live & On-Demand with no-ad breaks during play. New to Kayo? Get your 14-day free trial & start streaming instantly >
“He is ready to go,” Robinson said.
“He studies hard, and he would do as much video as anyone that I’ve seen.
“He would write down as many notes as he would need, and that is how he gets his preparation as well.
“It is important for him to get back out there and get the match fitness.
“You can run around and sit on a bike for as much as you like, but getting that match fitness is important, and we will start that step on Saturday.
“But I also know this is an important occasion for people to watch.”
Robinson has faith that his ultra-professional Roosters can internalise the external SBW excitement to focus on the job at hand.
That is not to say that he is over talking about one of the best athletes that rugby league and rugby union has ever seen.
“I’m definitely not sick of it,” he said.
“I’m really excited to have Sonny back because I knew what bringing him back would do.
“I think it is great for the game and for fans to watch. I’ve had a lot of people mention the excitement.
“Externally that is the biggest talking point, but internally it is how do we want to play, and we want to get better every game, and we want to honour Josh Morris’ 300 games.
“That is the internal focus for us, but the external focus will be large, which is great.
“That external focus is really important this year to get eyeballs on our game, and we understand that.”
Robinson isn’t surprised that Canberra players like John Bateman have declared they will go after Williams.
He believes that just comes with the territory when you have built up an accomplished resume like SBW.
“He has got an aura about him,” he said.
“He has earnt that through achieving in many different places and challenging himself.
“He was an extreme athlete that ended up pushing his limits, not just physically but mentally, and people respect that.
“That is why I feel like we are really honoured to have him back in the NRL. It is a feather in the cap of the game to have him here and that people will be watching around the world.”
While Robinson is happy to acknowledge the Williams hype, he also understands the importance of his side building momentum.
The Roosters are locked on 22 points alongside the Raiders, making Saturday’s game vital in the scheme of the season.
Robinson’s side is also determined to honour Morris, who will play his 300th NRL game against Canberra.
“It is special for Josh,” he said.
“We are privileged to have him play his 300th game here and also to play with his brother.
“To play the way he has for 300 games, the style, and the domination in that centre role for such a long time and still be performing at that level.”