The Canberra Raiders have granted star England import George Williams an immediate release from his playing contract.
Williams and his management had asked the club for a release at season’s end on compassionate grounds but the Raiders have instead decided it would be in the best interest of both parties to part ways, effective immediately.
The halfback still had 18-months to run on his contract.
Raiders CEO Don Furner said the club had little decision but to release Williams immediately considering the seriousness of his homesickness.
“George and his partner have asked on a number of occasions for a release to return to England to be closer to their families and we’ve decided to grant their request,” Furner said.
“George withdrew from training today and from the game this weekend which highlighted to the Club the seriousness of George’s request.
“Over the past several weeks we have supported George and provided him with the best welfare support we could, however as a Club we felt that his position at the club moving forward became untenable.”
With his partner expecting their first child, the England star approached coach Ricky Stuart in April about seeking an early exit from his deal.
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The Raiders had hoped to find a like-for-like replacement before releasing Williams.
But having arrived in Canberra weeks before the last year’s pandemic, Williams has been unable to see family, leading to a bout of homesickness that reached boiling point.
According to a Fox Sports report, Williams sent a text message today informing the Raiders he would not be attending the club’s regulation training session.
Coach Stuart then telephoned Williams to check what was going on. Williams was then called into Canberra HQ by Furner, who granted him the request he had been pushing for.
Williams fast became the cornerstone of Stuart’s playmaking stocks with an ability to organise, ball-play and marshall his troops around the paddock.
It’s just the latest setback for Ricky’s Raiders who have endured a torrid 2021 campaign, slumping to 11th on the ladder.
30-year-old Sam Williams will likely be their halfback for the rest of the season.
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