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The penthouse and the wrestling mannequin: SBW’s quarantine diary

“I’ve got a day on, day off training program the Roosters have given me,” Williams told the Herald.

“I’ve got a pretty hard day then a pretty cruisy day. Just watching the game against the Dragons the other night, the game has advanced so much. It’s got quite a bit quicker. Honestly, the standard of the game would be close to a finals game from when I last played and I’m not getting any younger. I’m 35. I’m going to have my work cut out for me in that sense. They’ve given me a couple of weeks to get the running legs and learn the ball skills and plays.

The makeshift gym on the balcony of Sonny Bill Williams' CBD quarantine apartment.

The makeshift gym on the balcony of Sonny Bill Williams’ CBD quarantine apartment.

“I might be ready that week [against the Raiders], but the way the boys are playing there might not be a space for me. I’m content with that. I’m going in to help in any way I can. I’m not over-expecting or under-expecting. Going in with an open mind and a hard work ethic.”

MORNING

Williams landed in Sydney from Manchester 10 days ago with his wife and four kids (aged between six months and six years). The kids have only just gotten over jet lag and are starting to wake up between 5am and 6am each day, which is when Williams gets up for Fajr (Islamic morning prayer).

“I pray then come down and make the kids breakfast,” Williams said.

“Sometimes it’s my wife, depends whoever has had a better sleep. I take my hat off to mothers out there with newborns. They just adapt with no sleep. The saying ‘no one loves you like your mother’ is so true.”

Williams doesn’t have breakfast very often, settling for a cup of coffee or a tea with honey a few times a week to start the day. Once the kids are sorted, Williams heads on to the balcony of the two-level CBD apartment for a weights session every second day. The one to two hour session is strength focused, following the program set by the Roosters high performance team.

“After I finish the wife puts on some music and the kids have a bit of a dance,” Williams said. “We are just trying to get them to use up a bit of energy.”

Afternoon

Williams has a kitchen in the apartment, but he’s not the one making the most of the fresh groceries delivered to the door each day.

“My wife is the chef man, she’s the bomb,” he said.

The two-level Meriton apartment Sonny Bill Williams has been calling home in quarantine.

The two-level Meriton apartment Sonny Bill Williams has been calling home in quarantine.

Williams has halal meat products delivered on the grocery drop-off, staying away from processed foods as he gets his body in shape for a crack at a third premiership. Once the kids go down for their afternoon nap, Williams will wrestle the headless padded mannequin and do some rehab exercises to overcome a knee injury that hampered the start of his Super League season with Toronto.

Williams has also been included in the Roosters’ video sessions over Zoom calls, getting to know some of his new teammates.

The dining room inside Williams' quarantine apartment.

The dining room inside Williams’ quarantine apartment.

“I’ve been doing quite a bit of video stuff with the Roosters boys,” he said. Watching their reviews and schooling up on old footage. I’m just getting a head start to hit the ground running. I watched last week’s review. I’m pretty sure I’ll watch this one as well.

“It’s good to see what they are thinking. You can learn all their play book but it’s more about understanding that intimate feeling and the connections they have and stuff like that. It’s good to hear the type of language they use too. I’ve connected up with a few of the boys. They are all good lads.”

Evening

After dinner when the kids are asleep, Williams tries to unwind with his wife and catch up on video the Roosters have sent him. But keeping the kids entertained has been the greatest challenge for the Williams family, who are no strangers to lockdown.

“It’s not unfamiliar to us because we spent three months in lockdown in the UK,” Williams said.

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“The only difference was we had a backyard and on the back of that we had farmland we used to walk through. Kids are resilient. They’ve asked to go outside a couple of times but we just keep them busy.

“That’s the beauty of the iPad sometimes, bro. Me and my wife held off for a long time getting them iPads, but we got them a few days before we came back. Long trip with four kids. We had to keep them occupied. It’s uncharted waters what we’re doing at the moment with the iPads. Once we get out we can get them back into a normal routine.”

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