Sonny Bill Williams says he’s not ready to be the saviour for the injury-ravaged Sydney Roosters straight away, or else he’ll risk joining the 11 other players in the casualty ward.
Williams had his first day back in NRL training with the Roosters since 2014 on Saturday, comparing the club’s culture to that of the All Blacks.
In a perfect world, the Roosters would have Williams playing on Friday night against Brisbane.
They are without Luke Keary, Boyd Cordner, Victor Radley and Mitch Aubusson just to name a few.
Brett Morris, Angus Crichton and Jared Waerea-Hargreaves are among others battling to return.
But Williams is focusing on the round-17 clash with Canberra – three weeks from now – as his ideal return date.
“Mentally I would like to say I am ready now but physically I know I am underdone,” Williams said.
“I haven’t run for three weeks. I haven’t played for six months, I am coming off (knee) surgery.
“I am like most other sportsmen where I would like to go straight away.
“But once I am going I want to be going, with no hiccups.”
What Williams can already see from two brief days around the club is how the culture he helped establish in 2013 and 2014 has only further progressed.
Williams is renowned for having helped establish the Roosters’ winning culture, after arriving at the club at the same time as coach Trent Robinson.
The cross-code star has played at no less than 10 clubs throughout his career, before the Toronto Wolfpack’s English Super League demise this year.
But he still recognised the Roosters for having a unique All Blacks-like feel.
“There are definitely similarities between the Roosters and the All Blacks,” Williams said.
“I think it just comes down to the people running the show.
“You understand you want to have that connection with the players and what’s best for them.
“To put that growth mindset in the players to not just think that is the way it’s done, it’s been done so long so we’ll just stick to this way.
“You have to remove that ego that holds a lot of people back in terms of thinking it’s my way or the highway and this is the only way things can be done.
“When I see that I think it’s not much of a secret to see how successful they have been for the last couple of years.”
Players expect his influence to be significant as well.
Six remain from his first stint at the club, and know just what he can do for the next crop of Roosters youngsters in a stay that at this stage will be just months.
“That was at the start of the run for us in culture wise. Sonny was a big part of that,” captain Jake Friend.
“He’s been a part of some good cultures since he left the Roosters.
“A part of the All Blacks which is a pretty awesome organisation.
“It’s our job to pick his brain and learn what we can from Sonny.”