Sonny Bill Williams could have died after wild weekend bender

Publish Date
Tuesday, 5 October 2021, 7:08AM
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Getty Images

Sonny Bill Williams has revealed a doctor once told him he could have died because he had "so many drugs" in his system after a wild weekend of partying.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports in his soon-to-be-released book Sonny Bill Williams: You Can't Stop the Sun from Shining, the dual code international recalls a moment earlier in his career where he had surgery after a "bender" that could have ended in tragedy.

"One time I went on a bender that lasted from Friday night to Monday morning," Williams writes. "The only reason I came home is I knew I had a surgery appointment at 11am.

"I don't remember anything about the operations except waking up having my girlfriend crying next to the bed and the doc really gave it to me, telling me I had so many drugs in my system I could have died."

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Williams burst onto the NRL scene with the Bulldogs as a freakishly talented teenager and his profile enjoyed a meteoric rise. But the shy kid from New Zealand didn't know how to handle the limelight.

At times he admitted he partied too much. In 2005 he was fined when he pleaded guilty to drink driving while on his P-plates and of course there was his infamous liaison with former Ironwoman Candice Warner at a Sydney pub.

The Herald reports Williams would sometimes wake up on the floor of strangers' homes, not remembering what he'd done the night before.

"Suddenly, I was a public figure," he writes. "How is a shy boy supposed to cope with that? That's not in the script either. And I had no one to guide me.

"So I found my own ways to deal with it. By having a smoke before I went out or a couple of sleeping tablets to relax me. I was trying to take the fear away."

After being fined for urinating in public on a night out in 2007, Williams admitted he had a drinking problem and said "all the bad publicity I've had has been alcohol related".

Speaking to the BBC in 2019, Williams said: "I chased girls. I drank alcohol, spent lavishly and thought I was someone that I wasn't.

"I lived that life and, in my experience, what did it give me? Hollowness and emptiness in my heart."

Realising his wayward behaviour could cost him the footy career he desperately wanted, Williams converted to Islam — a change he credits with turning his life around and bringing him back on the straight and narrow.

The changes Williams made in his life certainly worked as he went on to become a superstar in both rugby league and rugby union. After controversially walking out on the Bulldogs as a 22-year-old to play rugby in France, Williams later became a World Cup-winning All Black.

He later returned to the NRL to win a premiership with the Roosters before heading back to the 15-man game.

The Kiwi legend finished his professional football career in the NRL last season after the Roosters recruited him midway through the year.

This article was first published on and is republished here with permission