Will the superstar Roosters recurit be a Dream Team gun in his return to the NRL in 2013?
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NRL DREAM TEAM: He's back in the NRL at last, but will SBW be a Dream Team gun or an expensive flop in 2013?
Position: Second row
Last year's average: -
Last year's high score: -
Positives: Whatever you think about the man off the field, there's no doubt that Sonny Bill Williams can play. The guy was on his way to superstar status in the NRL when he walked out on the code in 2008, then played his way into a dominant All Blacks team.
He's a class above every other forward at the Roosters, where his ability to break tackles and produce offloads should give the team an extra dimension. Those abilities should also translate well to Dream Team, particularly if Williams gets a lot of chances to run at defenders on the fringes.
He won't be a huge worker in defence, but the likes of Dave Taylor and Sam Burgess last season showed that big, attack-minded back-rowers can score strongly in NRL Dream Team.
And at the relatively affordable price of $322,500, Williams comes almost $70,000 cheaper than Titans enforcer Taylor and about $60,000 cheaper than Rabbitohs star Burgess. That means if Sonny Bill can become a 45-point-a-week player, he starts the season at pretty good value.
Negatives: Is his heart in it? While Sonny Bill's talent is unquestionable, it's hard to predict whether that will necessarily convert into performances for his new club – particularly after four years outside of rugby league.
And even if he does produce the odd big score, SBW's role as a primarily attacking forward makes it unlikely he'll be as consistent a scorer as players like Canberra's Shaun Fensom or Brisbane's Corey Parker.
There's no early indication at this stage whether Williams will be a 80-minute player or whether the Roosters will use him in bursts to get the most out of attacking impact.
And if things go wrong, Williams may not be much more than this year's Adam Blair.
Risk rating: There's always a risk when a player returns to the NRL after a few years out of the game, but Williams's price is right and he could be a weapon in Dream Team if things go to plan. He won't be the highest-scoring back-rower in the competition, but there's no harm in taking the plunge on SBW at the start of the season.
Two Matt Orfords*.
*BigPond Sport's patented risk scale ranks players out of five Matt Orfords, with five Orfords representing maximum risk and one Orford being a low-risk player.
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