SBW Acceptance Speech
Sonny Bill Williams was named in the 80 year anniversary team of the decade and was unable to attend the night, but he did send his apologies and spoke of what being named in the side meant to him.
Williams was selected alongside club great Andrew Ryan as the staring back-row in the 80th anniversary team of the decade.
Williams spoke highly of the other 16 players chosen in the team and what an honour it was to receive this accolade.
“What a privilege, what an honour to be recognised and be part of this great team.
“There are some great players in here and I would like to think that every time I put on the blue and white jersey that I played with a lot of pride, a lot of heart and it’s great to be recognised,” said Williams.
Sonny Bill Williams was one of the most exciting prospects in the history of rugby league.
The New Zealander could produce something spectacular in both attack and defence with his extremely powerful and mobile frame.
He was more than a handful for any defender with his freakish ability to unload the ball amongst traffic.
To celebrate the club's 80th anniversary, a Team of the Decade was named last Saturday night, with the best starting 13 and four reserves named that played between 2005-2014.
This team follows on with the tradition after a 50th Anniversary and 70th Anniversary teams were named.
The past decade has included two Grand Final appearances and four other appearances in the finals which shows how strong and high quality the calibre of players have been over the past 10 years.
A selection panel that included Gary Lester, Barry Nelson OAM, Ian Heads OAM, David Middleton and Phil Gould came together to choose the best 17 players of the past decade. A strict criteria was put in place, that included:
- Players must have played first grade between 2005 – 2014
- Have played 50 or more first grade games for the Bulldogs - Not necessarily all in the years 2005 – 2014
- Only players are eligible – not administrators
- Players must embody the spirit and values of the Bulldogs
At the end of discussions, the final 17 were chosen and endorsed by the Board with seven current players and 10 former players chosen in the side. The selected side is as follows:
1. Luke Patten
2. Hazem El Masri
3. Josh Morris
4. Willie Tonga
5. Matt Utai
6. Josh Reynolds
7. Trent Hodkinson
8. James Graham
9. Michael Ennis
10. Roy Asotasi
11. Sonny Bill Williams
12. Andrew Ryan
13. Greg Eastwood
14. Aiden Tolman
15. Mark O’Meley
16. Willie Mason
17. Frank Pritchard