'Dogs release Sonny Bill from contract - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

'Dogs release Sonny Bill from contract

18/08/2008 07:09:41 PM Comments (0)

The Sonny Bill Williams saga came to a predictable, yet tortured, end with the Bulldogs accepting a $750,000 cash settlement in return for the release of their former No.1 star.

"We've put a full stop today on the Sonny Bill Williams file, we've placed this chapter into the club's history and archives," Bulldogs chief executive Todd Greenberg said.

"As far as I'm concerned, the book on Sonny Bill Williams is now closed."

A little over three weeks after walking out on the Bulldogs less than one year into a five-year deal, Williams is now free to forge ahead with a career in French rugby union.

His first game as a free man will be in Toulon's pre-season friendly against Saracens on Thursday morning (AEST), where he is expected to line-up in the centres as he continues his crash-course in the 15-man game.

While the journey featured threats of arrest, seizure of assets and even jail time for the runaway footballer, Williams' bid to escape the clutches of the Bulldogs ended the only way it ever could - with the NRL club agreeing to a price for his release.

The club had forced Williams' hand by successfully gaining a court injunction last week preventing him from playing with Toulon while under contract with the Bulldogs.

"The club's received a significant payout, one of the biggest in the history of Australian sport," Greenberg said.

"I'm happy that we've got a full stop on it, there's no winners in this saga.

"The Bulldogs have lost a player they've developed since the age of 16, one of the best players to come through our club. The game has lost one of its significant profiles and for Sonny Bill himself, he's made some decisions that he'll have to live with for the rest of his life.

"There's no fairytale ending at the end of this, there's no one running around the Bulldogs club yelling and screaming with delight. This is actually a relatively sad day."

Williams' associate and boxing champion Anthony Mundine reportedly spent today gathering the funds required to gain the release.

Mundine also claimed his management company would foot the bill, which he believed was a bargain.

"I was willing to go a lot more, it's all good, 750 we can stop there," Mundine told the Nine Network.

The settlement also put an end to any court action by the Bulldogs towards Williams' manager Khoder Nasser or Toulon for enticing a breach of contract.

While the Bulldogs closed the door on Williams today, their former prized asset could leave a lasting legacy, with the club struggling to replace his sizeable $400,000 chunk in next year's salary cap.

The club is believed to be close to confirming the signing of Brisbane winger Darius Boyd, but the Broncos youngster won't come close to matching Williams' pay-packet.

Asked if the club could be left playing short of the $4.1 million cap in 2009, Greenberg said: "Could be.

"That's not our plan, we'd like to be able to spend that sort of money.

"There's no ready-made fix to actually spend that money at the moment.

"We'll be looking for players, we're in the market now."

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