Sonny Bill Williams: Toronto Wolfpack cross-code star allowed to cover gambling logos

By Matt NewsumBBC Sport
Sonny Bill Williams
Sonny Bill Williams has signed a two-year contract with Toronto Wolfpack

Sonny Bill Williams will be allowed to cover up the logo of Super League sponsors Betfred on his Toronto Wolfpack jersey for religious reasons.

The cross-code star, who converted to Islam in 2009, previously covered up the logos of banking sponsors while at Super Rugby union side Auckland Blues.

Super League and the title sponsors came to a compromise over the issue.

"I think the matter has been resolved in satisfactory fashion," said Super League chief executive Robert Elstone.

"I have say a big 'thank you' to Betfred for the way they've managed this. We suspected it might be an issue but it only really surfaced five or six days ago and Betfred have taken it on, considered it and come up with the right answer and one that works for all parties.

"I'm really pleased, they showed a progressive, pragmatic approach to this."

French clubs Catalans Dragons and Toulouse do not carry the sponsorship logos on their shirts at home games, as French laws prohibit the advertising of gambling, alcohol and tobacco products.

The 2020 Super League season kicks off on Thursday, 30 January when Wigan Warriors host 2019 Challenge Cup winners Warrington Wolves.

Catalans Dragons players Sam Tomkins and Matty Smith
Catalans Dragons shirts are different for home games, not featuring the competition sponsor logo

'You've got to be true to it'

Sponsorship is one area of sport which Williams has been public in how his faith is affected, with alcohol as well as banking and gambling among the industries he will not promote.

The 34-year-old is passionate about his beliefs and ensuring he can adhere to them within his rugby life.

"Whatever walk of life or purpose you stand for, you've got to be true to it," he told BBC Sport at Friday's Super League season launch.

"People's convictions change throughout their life, they get stronger in their beliefs and that's through knowledge and knowledge of oneself.

"You learn from past experiences and mistakes, and I'm no different."

Sonny Bill Williams
Sonny Bill Williams was allowed to wear jerseys without a banking logo while in the union Super Rugby competition

The spotlight will shine brightly on the former All Black when he finally takes to the field for the Wolfpack.

Having been away from rugby league since departing Sydney Roosters in 2014, Williams' re-conditioning for the 13-man code is an ongoing process.

"I'm still getting into it, still working my way back to full fitness in the sense of being a rugby league player," he added.

"I've been playing rugby (union) for the past four or five years so that will take a bit of a process, but with patience and hard work I'll get back to where I need to be."

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