Sonny Bill Williams announcing the release of his new autobiography. Picture: Sam Ruttyn
Sonny Bill Williams announcing the release of his new autobiography. Picture: Sam Ruttyn

Sonny Bill’s incredible $1m deal

Sonny Bill Williams has joined Australian sport's $1 million book club by vowing to deliver a "cracks and all" account of his life and career.

A champion of Australia and New Zealand's two most popular football codes, rugby league and rugby union, Williams will release the only autobiography of his career later this year.

The former Bulldogs, Roosters and All Blacks star and part-time boxer is currently working with best-selling New Zealand author Alan Duff, whose novel Once Were Warriors became a movie box-office success. In agreeing to tell his life-story, Williams has signed a $1 million contract that will see the autobiography published in Australia, New Zealand and the UK.

 

Sonny Bill Williams will release his autobiography later this year. Picture: Sam Ruttyn
Sonny Bill Williams will release his autobiography later this year. Picture: Sam Ruttyn

 

Former Test cricket captain's Steve Waugh, Shane Warne and Ricky Ponting are the only athletes in Australian sport to secure seven-figures for autobiographies.

In New Zealand where rugby union is considered a religion, Williams will strive to surpass the almost 80,000-plus book sales each of All Blacks legends Richie McCaw, Jonah Lomu and Dan Carter. The Williams deal with Hachette was brokered by Nick Fordham from the Fordham Company and long-time agent Khoder Nasser.

The 35-year-old, who has been working with Duff via Zoom calls in two- to three- hour sessions, said there was a distinct reason for his targeted choice of co-author.

 

Williams in his early days with the Bulldogs.
Williams in his early days with the Bulldogs.

 

"It will be (emotional) definitely,'' William said.

"That's why I have Alan Duff doing it.

"I wanted to empower one of my Polynesian people and when Alan Duff's name popped up, the amount of stuff he does and continues to do in our community is pretty special.

"We know that he wrote Once Were Warriors, which was confronting … but that's what I wanted my autobiography to be, cracks and all, lessons and all.

"I didn't want it to be a fairy floss one where I talk about how great I am and that there's nothing wrong in my life and there've been no mistakes, no lessons.

"I want to know that if there was a young Sonny reading it, he could take away the fact that, "OK, I see he struggles with that, but he's been able to forge on.''

He will address the major milestones both on and off the field, Williams said he has found the process enjoyable so far.  

"It's actually been therapeutic delving back into the past and just thinking of things and it's actually given me a great sense of gratitude,'' Williams said.

 

"Especially reliving my childhood. I understand the magnitude of what I've been able to achieve, but the dream that it was, at that age … that's what has been satisfying. I remember sitting there as a youngster, I used to sleep with my footy boots when I was seven, but then when I got to about 10, I was just all about the NRL. I would sit there and think, I wish I could fast-forward 10 years and see if I've played a game of NRL.

"That buzz, stepping back and thinking about that type of stuff, has been awesome.

"I have always tried to live my life with a glass half-full mentality, but leaving those zoom meetings I've been pretty pumped about how life is."

Originally published as Sonny Bill's incredible $1m deal


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