They’ll be turning cartwheels in rugby league’s northern English strongholds after Sonny Bill Williams’ move to Super League was confirmed. The All Black is returning to league by joining Toronto Wolfpack, the Canadian club that gained promotion to the top division last season in only their third year. Make no mistake, Sonny Bill coming “home” is a very big deal for the 13-man-code, and the fact that Toronto went public early in their pursuit of one of rugby union’s biggest names and weren’t gazumped shows they are already a force. Backed by a mining magnate, this is the signature mega-signing they promised, even if the entire exercise is as ludicrous as it sounds: clubs in Huddersfield and Hull vying for fairly parochial honours with a transatlantic opponent. We know union and league are obsessed with expansion but, really, what business does Super League have eyeing up Ontario? It’s several steps beyond the NFL’s Wembley fixtures or the Premier League’s mooted “39th game”. The @TOwolfpack are in the Super League and now they have their super star! @SNMichaud , @SNEricThomas , and @SNFaizalKhamisa discuss the addition of Sonny Bill Williams on This Week in 30. TODAY 6:30pm ET on SN 360 SUNDAY 2pm ET on SN ONE pic.twitter.com/FA0DzpyFyR — Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) November 9, 2019 Toronto have indicated they do not want to be the kind of retirement home sometimes created when nascent leagues throw money at fading or plain greedy stars willing to lend their credibility: two eras of soccer in the United States and latterly the Chinese Super League, for instance. The Wolfpack want to be up to standard on the field straight away, so all eyes will be on Williams to show that, at 34, it’s more than a payday. Coming straight from New Zealand’s Rugby World Cup campaign, he ought to be capable of that. It does, however, offer an interesting challenge to the notion that sustains team sport: that no individual is bigger than a club. Shelling out £5 million (US$6.4 million) over two years to make Williams the highest-paid player in the history of either code, permitted as a “marquee” signing outside the salary cap, means he will cost more than some clubs’ entire playing rosters. He’ll be worth watching, whether exploding into compressed space to unleash an outrageous offload, or seeming to bring world peace closer merely by gifting a boot to a kid in the stands But never mind the club; Sonny Bill is arguably bigger than the whole English game currently. It no longer fills Wembley for its Challenge Cup final, and has suffered a talent drain to union and to Australia’s NRL. It used to tempt Antipodeans who even early or late in their careers lifted the quality. That tide turned, with Australia’s recent growth in television revenue luring Britons down under for the first time in a generation. Meanwhile, union had turned the tables since turning pro by plundering league talent, touting its global profile and new-found spending power. In the years since Andy Farrell left Wigan for union at his peak and Chris Ashton did likewise with his best years ahead, Super League has not been awash with bankable names. Most recently, Denny Solomona left Super League feeling distinctly jilted to try to play union for England, and succeeded straight away to a backdrop of bitterness in Castleford. Of those to have swapped play-the-balls for mauls – some succeeding, others bombing – nearly all deducted more from league than they added to union. Sam Burgess typified that. Williams was a rare exception, yet for all his skill, athleticism and presence as a centre in union, he – like Burgess – is more naturally a rugby league forward. Shaun Edwards, the Wales defence coach and former Wigan great, was going to return to the cherry-and-whites as boss next season only to change his mind. Williams’ arrival, then, is very welcome for a competition becoming a backwater. He’ll be worth watching, whether exploding into compressed space to unleash an outrageous offload, or seeming to bring world peace closer merely by gifting a boot to a kid in the stands, or giving Canadians a warm feeling about the sport with his humility and sense of mischief. This is rugby’s Instagram Gandhi, its Muslim Beckham – and he’s coming to Salford and St Helens. There would be no skewing of proportion were Williams having another shot at the NRL. It was there where he made his name as a teenage sensation with Canterbury Bulldogs before returning as the finished article with Sydney Roosters following his first stint in union. Heading back to arguably the toughest stage in rugby would have aroused great interest in him as a personality, but as a player he would have slipped into a throng. Instead, he could lead a Wolfpack who take the role of backing band. No doubt match commentaries will resemble Sonny Bill fan-lit as the cameras seek him out. But what if it goes a bit too well? Toronto have deep pockets and director of rugby Brian Noble wants to continue dipping into them. Throw in the logistical lunacy for their opponents, and the Wolfpack could conceivably make the end-of-season play-offs. How would it look if Toronto won the English title? For this punt to be worth it, Williams must be subsumed into the whole, and needs some rival headliners. That is what English administrators must be mindful of, no matter how many bums one guy puts on seats in Yorkshire. The combination of wealthy backers and political goodwill for the franchise to work was the only way they could capture Williams; the sport’s fortunes in Canada may well be a sideshow. Sonny Bill is probably worth it. Now, is Super League?