Sonny Bill issued with subpoena - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Sonny Bill issued with subpoena

By Belinda Tasker 28/07/2008 11:18:25 PM Comments (0)

Sonny Bill Williams has been subpoenaed to appear in the NSW Supreme Court court next Tuesday in the first step towards a possible injunction preventing the Bulldogs superstar walking out on the NRL club.

The stunning development comes as Williams surfaced at London's Heathrow Airport, where he was believed to be en route to Toulon in southern France.

The Bulldogs, with the support of the NRL, sought an injunction with the Supreme Court, which, if passed, would prevent Williams from taking up a rumoured $3 million, two-year deal to switch codes.

"The injunction will seek to restrain him from training or playing other than in accordance with the Bulldogs contract," NRL chief executive David Gallop said.

"The consequences of breaching an injunction when put in place are that he is liable to contempt of court proceedings that can involve everything from arrest to seizure of assets."

Player manager Khoder Nasser has also been subpoenaed to provide documents relating to information on Williams's whereabouts by Thursday.

Should Williams not front next week, or have a representative appear on his behalf, the hearing will be postponed.

This would be followed by legal arguments to show whether Williams is in contempt of court or whether in fact the Supreme Court has jurisdiction in the matter given Williams is now overseas.

Bulldogs lawyer Arthur Moses claimed the court should have jurisdiction given the breach of contract was committed in NSW.

Supreme Court judge Robert Austin admitted to Moses "you've got a bit of a burden on your shoulders" in reference to the Bulldogs bid to track down Williams.

"I'm concerned this is kind of a blitzkrieg strategy," he said.

The Department of Immigration has also subpoenaed in a bid to help track down Williams, given he would have supplied them with a French address on his departure.

The Bulldogs attempted to have Nasser subpoenaed despite assertions from the controversial player manager on Monday that he was not representing the runaway star.

The Bulldogs claimed they had been operating under the assumption Nasser had been acting as Williams's manger since earlier this year.

"I've been instructed to deal with Khoder Nasser over the last three months and that instruction has come from Sonny Bill Williams direct," Greenberg said.

"Who we (deal with) going forward I'm not sure."

Amid rumours Williams may actually be headed for Toulouse and not Toulon, a spokesperson from the Toulon club denied any knowledge of the Kiwi international having signed a deal.

"For me he is not coming to Toulon, and for the (club) president too," Sandrine Nacci told radio station 2UE.

"I have heard about the news this weekend, it was very crazy, but we have no information about that.

"The French union (requires) the French clubs to sign all the contracts before the 15th July ... we have no contract signed by Sonny Bill Williams.

"Maybe the president has a contract with him before the 15th July, but for the moment, nothing."

Gallop expressed dismay at claims from the IRB that they were powerless to stop Williams from signing with Toulon.

"If they don't have jurisdiction, then who does? Can this rogue club simply operate without rules in their code?

"I find that very alarming, and alarming for rugby union as it is for rugby league."

The NRL boss gave an insight into a possible reason for Williams' covert departure from Australia, the Kiwi juggernaut only informing those closest to him of his intentions as he boarded a plane on Saturday.

With the Bulldogs having already stated their marquee talent would not be released from the remaining four years of is contract, Gallop suggested the club may have slapped on Williams to prevent his departure.

"I would have thought the Bulldogs would certainly have done that," Gallop said.

While the Williams saga was causing the NRL headaches, leading player manager Steve Gillis warned that the Kiwi superstar's departure was just the tip of the iceberg.

Gillis made the stunning claim that he had fielded "half a dozen" calls since the weekend from players interested in overseas opportunities.

"It's going to be big problem," Gillis said.

"They're looking for our very best players. They'll knock them off one by one.

"I think you'll find if there's four or five this year, there'll be 10 next year, probably 20 or 30 the next year."

Fairfax newspapers reported the Bulldogs star had approached a leading Sydney barrister before he left to take up a multi-million rugby deal in France, to prepare a legal strategy which challenged the ceiling on player payments.

If Williams was successful it could open a pandora's box for rugby league, rugby union, soccer and AFL in Australia because all the codes rely on salary caps to restrain player payments.

Fairfax said Williams's lawyers will argue that the Bulldogs could pay more than the $450,000 per season he currently earns but is prevented from doing so by NRL rules that create salary parity across its 16 clubs.

Williams has been subpoenaed to appear in the NSW Supreme Court court next Tuesday in the first step towards a possible injunction on him walking out on the NRL club.

He was in London, reportedly experiencing difficulties with his visa.

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