A WEEK ago, Tony Williams took on his former club. On Friday he will take on his future one.
In what will be Canterbury coach Des Hasler's return to Brookvale Oval, Manly will host the Bulldogs in one of the biggest matches of the year.
The clash will be significant for Williams, who won a premiership under Hasler at Manly and will be the biggest name to follow him to Belmore after penning a four-year deal starting next year.
''Ever since Des has been there it's something the boys have been looking forward to, [taking on] his team,'' Williams told The Sun-Herald. ''It's going to be pretty big. Most of the Manly fans are pretty angry that he left, so who knows what is going to happen. I'm sure the boys are looking forward to [playing against] him. Everybody knows we're pretty close to Des but now that Dessie's there the boys are keen to come up against him. It's going to be a good encounter; I'm looking forward to it.''
It was Hasler who transformed the former Parramatta winger into the most destructive back-rower in the game. Under Hasler's guidance, ''T-Rex'' went on to represent Australia in last year's Four Nations and subsequently earned a NSW jersey this year. ''It was a pleasure playing under him … hopefully we get the result against him,'' he said. ''It will be an occasion to give it back to him, even though there's nothing personal. We love giving it to him.''
However, the former Tongan international player revealed that family - rather than Hasler - was the main reason he chose to switch to the Bulldogs. ''To be honest, I have a lot of respect for him but he wasn't the main reason,'' he said.
''It was a deal that set me up for the future and my family; it was more a family decision. Dessie being there was a bonus.''
The Canterbury pack will be even more intimidating when Williams joins it in 2013. Already they boast a forward rotation consisting of Sam Kasiano, Frank Pritchard, James Graham, Greg Eastwood, Michael Ennis and Dene Halatau. But the 23-year-old is solely focused on helping the Sea Eagles get over the top of his future teammates, particularly after missing out on their clash earlier this year due to a dangerous throw suspension.
''It was pretty hard, but now I've got the chance to play - fingers crossed,'' Williams said. ''The boys got the job done, so hopefully we can do it again next week.''
The only thing bigger than beating the Bulldogs at Brookvale, according to Williams, would be beating them in a final, or a grand final. ''That would be pretty intense,'' he said. ''Who knows, anything could happen. It would be good to beat them in a final.''
He added that winning a premiership would be the perfect way to part from his Sea Eagles teammates. ''I don't think there would be a better feeling,'' he said. ''If everything goes well, it will be something special, something I will remember for the rest of my career. It would set history; no one has done it for a lot of years. If we go back to back, that would be leaving on a good note.''
In an ominous warning to opposition packs, Williams said he was still improving after a long injury and suspension lay-offs.