No pay rise for Sonny Bill: Toulon boss - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

No pay rise for Sonny Bill: Toulon boss

31/07/2008 11:56:24 AM Comments (0)

Sonny Bill Williams will only earn the same money he is paid in the NRL by the Bulldogs if he signs to play rugby union with Toulon, according to the French club's millionaire owner.

Toulon owner-president Mourad Boudjellal says he hopes to sign Williams - but not for anywhere near the $3 million over two seasons that has been reported since the Kiwi international fled Australia on Saturday.

If that is the case, it will be some welcome news for the NRL which, with the salary cap, cannot match the figures being bandied about as it looks to retain its stars.

And in a further development, Boudjellal forecast more player raids on the NRL should Williams and former Australian Test player Luke Rooney - who has already signed with Toulon - prove a success in rugby union.

"Today I think that Sonny Bill Williams, should he sign with Toulon, it would be for the equivalent conditions to what he's getting currently," Boudjellal told ABC radio from Florida.

"But it's not at all a question of money. If Sonny Bill Williams wants to play rugby today, he no longer wants to play league."

Although Boudjellal was adamant Toulon has yet to sign Williams, he says his club has been in discussions with the 22-year-old since June.

"It was perhaps that moment that Sonny Bill Williams wanted to play rugby," said Boudjellal, who described Williams as an "extraordinary" player.

"(But) today we haven't signed a contract because I haven't met Sonny Bill Williams.

"I know he wishes to play rugby. I know he wishes to play at Toulon under Tana Umaga. Now I also know he has some problems with his contract.

"I hope, first of all, that things are cleared up and then we'll see if financially it's something that is achievable for us, for our club.

"And if these two conditions come together, we will sign a contract with Sonny Bill Williams."

Boudjellal believed the progress of Williams, if signed, and Rooney would be closely monitored by other French clubs.

"If Sonny Bill Williams signs with Toulon with Luke Rooney, if the integration goes well, if they reach a level that we hope they will at rugby very quickly, it's certain that we'll depend more and more on having league players coming to France," he said.

Boudjellal says the introduction of the new laws (ELVs) in rugby union this year to speed up the game will help league players make the transition to union.

"It's obvious that with the new rules of rugby the integration of league players is going to be easier," he said.

"It's possible, even probable, that more and more rugby (clubs) in Europe will turn towards league players in Australia and New Zealand.

"The new rules will favour that. They'll favour the integration of league players into rugby. It will be easier."

Boudjellal says it would be unwise for the Bulldogs not to release their superstar charge, believing it would serve nothing because Williams now has his sights on playing for the All Blacks and has lost the desire for rugby league.

Williams has another four years remaining on his contract with the Bulldogs.

Meanwhile, Williams is a step closer to joining Toulon after collecting his travel visa in London.

A French Embassy spokesman told AAP the former Bulldogs rugby league star picked up his visa at the French General Consulate on Wednesday.

"His visa has been handed to him," the spokesman said.

Williams had flown to London on his Samoan passport, meaning he needed a visa to enter France.

He landed in London on Monday but immigration officials at Heathrow airport stopped him transferring to a flight to France because he did not have a visa.

After being escorted into the consulate in the upmarket London suburb of South Kensington through a secret entrance to avoid the waiting media, Williams met deputy consul general Jean Paul Bossuge.

Bossuge, a former rugby player, personally handed Williams his visa and spoke with the New Zealand-born star who then chatted happily with consulate staff.

"(Bossuge) wanted to meet the player in person and shake his hand," the spokesman said.

"He was also met by seven members of staff who wanted to shake hands with him. A few of them were rugby fans."

The spokesman refused to reveal what type of visa was given to Williams or if he revealed when he planned to travel to France.

"It's an individual confidential procedure," he said.

"He was granted the visa but I will not get into the technicalities of which visa it was."

Williams flew out of Sydney at the weekend, reportedly en route to Toulon in the south of France for talks about a two-year, $3 million deal with the city's rugby club.

The move sparked outrage within the NRL and amongst Williams' fans.

The Bulldogs and NRL are attempting to impose an injunction to stop Williams from breaking his five-year contract with the club.

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