10 Jul 2012

SBW leaves as rugby's best No.12: Cooper

6:15 am on 10 July 2012

The Australian international Quade Cooper says Sonny Bill Williams has done a lot for rugby and rated Williams the top inside centre in the game after the dual New Zealand international announced yesterday he would return to league's NRL next year.

His code-jumping will come after a lucrative 12-match stint with the Panasonic club in Japan, ruling him out of the All Blacks squad in the four-nation Rugby Championship.

Cooper says Williams' ability to draw crowds and the attention he's brought to rugby, have been good for the sport.

Williams' form for the Chiefs in Super Rugby and for the All Blacks in last month's 3-nil whitewash of Ireland has propelled him past Test teammate Ma'a Nonu and Welsh centre Jamie Roberts as the leading inside centre.

Cooper and Williams, both managed by Sydney agent Khoder Nasser, had been the centre of speculation last year that they would sign with the Sydney Roosters as a package deal.

Cooper says playing for the All Blacks is what drew Williams to the game and says it would have been a hard decision to walk away but suspects rugby hasn't seen the last of him.