SBW out of quarantine and ready for Roosters
Tradies on a building site across the street, who had been whispering for a good half-hour that something was clearly going on, started yelling "SONNY! OI, SONNY!" once they saw him.
The scenes of the waiting press pack rushing the Toyota Kluger was more akin to a rock star or a Hollywood idol - because Sonny Bill Williams, once of the Bulldogs and Crusaders and All Blacks and Wolfpack and now again a Rooster, is back, he is here, and as close to either as you'll get in the NRL.
The dual international superstar exited quarantine on Thursday afternoon, and the SBW frenzy is rapidly approaching fever pitch.
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After two weeks at the Meriton on Pitt Street, Williams had few words for the waiting press pack, but he didn't need many - sitting behind the wheel of a white Toyota Kuger with his family in tow, the impact of his presence said it all.
Close to a dozen photographers crowded around, trying to get a shot of the cross-code phenom, as he left isolation, bound for Redfern for a biosecurity check.
Williams has been on lockdown for the past 14 days with his wife Alana and children Iman (6), Aisha (4), Zaid (2) and Essa (5 months).
"We're doing good. We're very happy," Williams said.
"I'll start training when we get the test back.
"It's good to get out and get some fresh air."
Williams will not attend Thursday night's clash between the Roosters and Storm - he said he was not permitted due to the NRL's strict biosecurity laws - and will instead settle in at home with his family.
His NRL return is pencilled as Round 17's grand final rematch with the Raiders, and he's expected to start training with the Tricolours as soon as he's cleared.
Not since Jarryd Hayne's return from the NFL in 2016 has the NRL had a player with such star power - league's prodigal sons might head to other codes in other lands but they almost always come home in the end, and for whatever reason the sport is enchanted with those who leave and come back.
Sure, there's plenty of young bucks who have risen up since Williams left at the end of 2014, but even now, at 35 and with likely only half a dozen games in him this year, nobody can draw a crowd like him.
All the young bloods, like Kalyn Ponga, Nathan Cleary, David Fifita and even Latrell Mitchell - for a while at least, they'll all be playing for second when it comes to getting the spotlight.
It's always been this way for Williams, ever since his debut as a Bulldog back in 2004, and his colourful and high-profile career across two codes, four countries and three continents has only built his stardom, and his legend.
He's at the back end of his career now, and he's only played a handful of matches in the last 12 months. The Roosters have signed him as much for his off-field presence as what he can provide with Steeden in hand. He might not be the strength that once seemed to move heaven and earth.
But everyone will still be watching. They'll be watching that first training session when he runs out in red, white and blue. They'll be watching every Tuesday to see if this is the week he gets named by Trent Robinson.
They'll be watching when the match begins against the Raiders and he sits impatiently on the bench, waiting for the moment he hits the field, and only then will we see if all the old things can still happen again.
Maybe time will beat him, as it does everybody in the end. But maybe it wont'.
After all, this is Sonny Bill Williams we're talking about here. It doesn't matter how long he's been away, he's still unique - that means there's nobody else like him.
Originally published as SBW out of quarantine, ready for Roosters