NRL prepares to pounce on Williams - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

NRL prepares to pounce on Williams

By Vincent Morello 09/08/2008 06:24:59 PM Comments (0)

Sonny Bill Williams' French rugby union career began in dramatic fashion when he was sin binned in his debut for Toulon before being served details of an injunction banning him from playing another match.

The runaway Bulldogs star started on the wing in Toulon's 50-5 win over second-tier team Carqueiranne-Hyeres in a pre-season trial overnight, despite a NSW Supreme Court injunction issued just hours earlier.

Club president Mourad Boujellal said neither Toulon nor Williams had been issued with any documents in relation to the injunction before the match, and there were no plans to comply with the ban.

But NRL lawyer Tony O'Reilly said Williams was intercepted and served after the game in Hyeres.

Williams refused the documents but O'Reilly said the NSW Supreme Court would be informed of the circumstances and he expected the court to accept that Williams was properly served.

"We would expect him to abide by it once he's properly served and he was, we believe, after the game last night," O'Reilly told AAP.

It means Williams could be in serious trouble if he plays again.

"If he plays again then we will obviously be informing the court and then it's a matter for the court to decide what it does in those circumstances, O'Reilly said.

Williams' debut got off to a shaky start, with his rugby league tackling style landing him in hot water.

The 23-year-old New Zealand international started the match on the left wing and got his first touch in the fifth minute of the game.

But the ex-league backrower was yellow-carded in the third quarter after he put one of his trademark shoulder charges - illegal in union - on Carqueiranne-Hyeres' Laussucq Arnaud.

After apologising to Arnaud, who hit the ground heavily, Williams was marched for 10 minutes by the referee and did not return to the field for the rest of the match.

Following the game, the bemused Frenchman described the incident as feeling "like an electrocution".

Williams' arrival at the ground was shrouded in secrecy so he could avoid being personally served with the court injunction.

The court slapped an injunction on him Friday and the Bulldogs had wanted to have it served on Williams before Friday's match.

But club officials ensured Williams was shielded at all times, even organising for him to arrive in a private car instead of with his teammates on a bus.

His performance on the field impressed Toulon's fans, who packed the 3000-seat grandstand in Hyeres.

Among the crowd were boxer Anthony Mundine and Williams' agent Khoder Nasser, key supporters of his controversial decision to quit the Bulldogs in the first year of his five-year contract and move to France.

They and the rest of Toulon's supporters applauded and cheered Williams as he ran off the field.

Toulon fan Emanuelle Ferrier, 32, was thrilled to be one of the few lucky supporters to get Williams' autograph and photo at the match.

"He's a good guy," she said.

"He'll be very good for the team."

O'Reilly said the NRL would receive a full report on Monday of Williams being served.

Meanwhile, Williams told the Nine Network in France: "There's been a lot of whispers over there (Australia) but at the end of the day I stand by my convictions."

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