Price tag weighing down SBW in Japan
Boxing All Black Sonny Bill Williams appeared to be feeling the burden of his inflated price tag in Japan as his Panasonic Wild Knights lost again on Sunday.
Williams made his Tokyo debut but former New Zealand All Black Steven Bates stole his thunder with two tries in a 32-22 win for Toshiba Brave Lupus.
New Zealand’s heavyweight boxing champion did score his first try in the Japanese Top League but was once again on the losing side after a defeat in Sapporo earlier this month.
“It’s always disappointing when you lose,” Williams told reporters. “It was good to get across the try line but I was really disappointed and frustrated at the end.
“I just want to pay back my teammates and the Panasonic supporters. When we lose I feel the weight on my shoulders.”
Williams left the world champion All Blacks and Waikato Chiefs for a 12-match deal worth an estimated $100 000 per game but Panasonic have yet to see much return.
Japan coach Eddie Jones and International Rugby Board chief executive Brett Gosper have both backed Williams to be a big hit in Japanese rugby.
Gosper told Reuters that Williams could have David Beckham-like effect on the game in Japan, but there still appears to be a lot to work on for Panasonic after their latest setback.
“We have to be smarter,” said Williams. “We let in some soft tries and have to to the drawing board.”