Learning with Sonny Bill Williams 2013 to 2019
In 2013-14 we shared a great experience with Sydney Roosters.
Sonny’s signing was heavily criticised and he joined the club coming off a pec tear with a professional boxing match scheduled for around 4 months post surgery.
I wasn’t sure what I had to offer a legend who’d already done it all in Rugby and Rugby League. I’d had some great results with unknown youngsters in France but what about the highest profile athlete in Rugby and the southern hemisphere?
During that season Roosters went from underdogs to one of the most dominant teams in the modern history of Rugby League. In 2013 Roosters won not just the premiership but also the minor premiership, club championship, world championship and broke the all-time record for holding opposition teams to ZERO.
It was a special time with head coach Trent Robinson running the show building on the foundation that my dad and brother (Brian and Rohan Smith) had built at the club during previous years.
CHANGES MAKE CHANGES
During that season Sonny took on the style of training the rest of the team had taken well to and he improved his lower back and knee with some bumps along the way. We worked hard on his posterior chain particularly with glute activation and heavy sled work to replace some of the axial loading on the spine.
Initially Sonny trained seperate to the group in the mornings before field sessions to work on his individual goals but as our connection and trust built as well as Sonny’s strength foundation for the style of training the team was doing.
As time went on Sonny embraced the holistic approach that I was offering and working hard to embody in my own life. Our connection built in the gym but also around food and a different lifestyle. We both had children on the way in 2014 and started to talk about life as husbands and fathers as we moved into that phase of life.
2013 was my first year running strength, speed and nutrition in the NRL. I didn’t know if I had what it takes to hold down the role let alone to be a part of the staff for the best ever defensive team. Applying what I believe with Sonny and the team and seeing the results that came changed my whole outlook on life and was an accelerator on the journey that has become RealMVMT.
Glute Activation and posterior chain strength
Increased confidence in his legs and lower back
Lifetime PB on the bench press (although we only focussed on it for one short block when he was suspended)
Becoming husbands and fathers
Introducing and implementing bigger picture factors in performance.
Massive success against the odds and critics
Successfully introducing weightlifting, gymnastics and loaded mobility into Sonny’s program.
2016 NEW BEGINNINGS
In 2016 I had the chance again to work with Sonny during his achilles tendon rehabilitation from full rupture he had at the Rio Olympics. Unfortunately I didn’t back myself to deliver all of what he needed at the camp. I’m glad to say that with my recent learnings working with Ben Patrick from ATG I wouldn’t hesitate to continue his rehabilitation from the point he came to me at.
Highlights for me at the camp were some of the free-play and experimentation around gymnastics, skills work as well as our ice-bath and breathwork experiences. As always we got to another level of conversation that I don’t reach with many people.
Seeing Sonny kick for tries during the 2017 season was one of the things I’ve most enjoyed seeing on the footy field.
Seeing things that we’d built in 2013-14 had progressed over the 2 years since we’d worked together.
Seeing Sonny’s 24-7 work ethic up close
Sharing my house and family experience with Sonny together with the training camp
Introducing members of the RealMVMT mentorship to one of the big drivers for RealMVMT existing (Sonny) and connecting with Quade.
Foot skill progression
2019 Young Again
2019 and we’re on again. Sonny is in the final stages of preparation for his third world cup. What a great time to connect and work on some of the details that might help Japan be Sonny’s best World Cup yet. I’ve been sharing a lot of my learnings on my Instagram story and posts. I plan to share more about the methods we’re using at the upcoming Level1 events and within the Level1 online course.
Proof will be in the pudding. It’s great to be here supporting one of the All Blacks key players in my journey as a coach and human.
Reflecting more on life as Dad’s and spending time with Sonny personally is something I value more each time we connect.
I’m more open to learning from Sonny and others than I have been in the past. I don’t need to be the authority. We need to get the desired result.