'He looks ready to go': Hype continues to grow as ex-All Blacks star Sonny Bill Williams nears NRL return

James Tedesco claims he can add another layer to his attacking game with Sonny Bill Williams’ return as the Sydney Roosters’ star recruit ramps up his preparations to face Canberra.

Williams is expected to end a 2171-day NRL hiatus against on Saturday night at GIO Stadium, with five matches for Toronto Wolfpack his only rugby league since leaving the Roosters in 2014.

The return of the former All Blacks ace comes at an ominous time for the Roosters’ NRL rivals, with reigning Dally M Medallist Tedesco involved in five tries last week and the premiers’ attack the best in the competition.

But with Williams in the team, superstar fullback Tedesco believes the Roosters will be even more dangerous.

Williams will spend this week fitting into team structures, running through more plays in attack after a month spent focused on his fitness.

The 35-year-old has spent a month studying the Roosters’ style of play, taking notes in video sessions while in quarantine and in person.

And it’s exactly that that excites Tedesco, confident the veteran’s famous offload and ball skills will still be there in the middle for the Tri-colours.

“When he’s got the ball he’s got skilful offloads and tip-ons,” Tedesco said.

“He’s just a guy who I know I can hang around and he can create something for me and I can create something for him hopefully.

“He’s probably not as fit as he was when he was in his 20s, but skilfully he’s still got it with more skills.

“That’s the big thing for us this week working on some combinations and getting that going on the field.”

Tedesco has no doubt over Williams’ fitness.

The back-rower has largely done his fitness work away from the main group, putting in the extra hard yards on lighter days for the top 17 and on match days.

“Going off what I have seen he looks physically ready to go,” Tedesco said.

What hasn’t been missing though is the Williams aura.

Even veterans like Brett Morris have noticed his presence, while he has already proven influential among the group’s younger players.

In Canberra, the Raiders are lobbying the government to try and increase crowd numbers from 3000 to up to 6000 or even 12,000.

“The hype with Sonny is the fact that he’s done it all. I just think it’s wonderful to have him in the game,” Raiders coach Ricky Start said.

“The hype you talk about that that has been created through his presence is really good for rugby league in these tough times.

“It’d be great to get some more numbers into the game to be able to watch him play and experience it.”